Education

Wichita schools budget shows increases in most areas

The Wichita school district’s proposed budget presumes increases for special education, bilingual education, transportation, at-risk preschool programs, food service, utilities and other categories.
The Wichita school district’s proposed budget presumes increases for special education, bilingual education, transportation, at-risk preschool programs, food service, utilities and other categories. Wichita Eagle file photo

The Wichita school district has posted its proposed 2017-18 budget online in advance of a public hearing set for Monday.

The proposed $682 million budget – about $20 million more than last year’s – presumes a boost in state funding and keeps the district’s property tax mill levy flat.

To see the proposed budget, go to www.usd259.org, click on “About WPS,” and scroll down to “Budget.” The 152-page budget document, which details proposed expenditures in various categories, is posted along with a 13-page “Budget at a Glance.”

The Wichita school board is expected to approve the budget at Monday’s meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the lecture hall at Wichita North High School, 1437 N. Rochester.

The budget shows a significant increase in capital expenditures – from $15 million to $22 million – which reflects a plan to address maintenance projects that were deferred during bond construction, said Susan Willis, the district’s chief financial officer.

The budget also presumes increases for special education, bilingual education, at-risk preschool programs, food service, utilities and other categories.

An 11 percent increase in the transportation budget reflects a renegotiated contract with First Student that increased the daily rate for buses, as well as higher costs for fuel and the number of buses, according to the district’s data.

The budget presumes additional state aid next year under a new school finance formula approved by Kansas lawmakers. The Kansas Supreme Court still is reviewing whether the plan is constitutional.

The proposed budget maintains a controversial calendar that lengthened the school day and trimmed 15 days from the school year.

People who want to address the board during the public hearing on the budget may register to speak by calling the clerk of the board at 316-973-4553 by noon Monday, or they can register at North High between 5:30 and 5:50 p.m. Monday. Each speaker’s comments are limited to three minutes and must be limited to budget issues.

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

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