Wichita school board to examine proposed $683 million budget at Monday’s meeting

Wichita school board members will get their first detailed look at a proposed budget Monday that lowers the overall property tax rate and raises teacher pay.

The $683 million budget for 2014-15 – about $60 million more than last year’s expenditures – includes an increase in per-pupil funding, an increase in state aid to the local option budget, a higher carryover cash balance and greater flexibility in how the district can spend capital outlay money.

It also includes a 3.5 percent increase in compensation and benefits – including a 2 percent raise – for teachers, part of a tentative contract agreement between the district and the teachers union. Wichita teachers began voting on the contract when they reported to work last week. Voting will continue until 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Board members are expected to vote Monday to publish the budget and set a public hearing and final vote for Aug. 25.

The budget presumes another enrollment increase for Wichita, the state’s largest school district, and an increase in assessed valuation from Sedgwick County. It also presumes increased costs for transportation, utilities, special education, food service and other categories.

The budget nearly doubles the district’s capital outlay mill levy to 8 mills.

The school board voted in June to increase its capital outlay authority, hoping to take advantage of looser restrictions on the fund, though board members said at the time that they might not raise the levy. Last year’s levy was 4.25 mills.

The district’s total mill levy would go down, though, from 57.2 mills to 53.6 mills, a savings of about $41 a year on a house that is valued at $100,000.

In addition to discussing the budget and teachers contract, school board members are expected to:

Approve a $1.1 million contract with Construction Services Bryant for an addition and renovation project at Woodland Health & Wellness Magnet Elementary School, 1705 Salina.

Consider up to $676,385 in contracts with seven outside agencies for special-education services mandated by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and state guidelines. The contracts are with Heartspring, Envision Industries, Kansas Elks Training Center for the Handicapped, Starkey, ResCare Kansas Life Choices, Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation and Goodwill Industries.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or Follow her on Twitter: @suzannetobias.