RV to lose an estimated $181,245 with block grant

Royal Valley is expected to lose $181,245 total in state aid from the classroom this year and the next two years if lawmakers approve a bill to fund schools through flexible block grants.

Superintendent John Rundle told board members, building principals and other members of the public present at the board’s meeting Monday evening that the block grant proposal was unveiled at the Kansas Legislature last Friday.

If passed, the block grant proposal would decrease the district’s state aid by $80,338 this year, which includes cuts to capital outlay and the Local Option Budget (LOB). These are all operating funds, Rundle said.

In addition, the district’s KPERS (Kansas Public Employees Retirement System) allotment would be reduced by $92,811 this year.

In the 2016 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2015, the state aid to the RV general fund is expected to increase by $22,354. The KPERS fund would also increase by $178,505.

“The capital outlay and the LOB would be frozen in 2016 and 2017,” Rundle said. “We’d get the same amounts those years as we received this year, which is a decrease. When that money stays flat in the next two years and isn’t increased, it’s a loss for us.”

In the 2017 fiscal year, the district’s general fund would increase by $46,863, and KPERS would increase by $82,236. 

“Anything that goes into the KPERS fund has no impact on operations,” Rundle said. “Operating funds over these three years is a loss of more than $180,000. The money that’s going to schools is going to KPERS. It’s not money going into the classroom.”

Lawmakers started factoring KPERS into school budgets several years ago and then recently started talking about it publicly as “state aid,” Rundle said.

“KPERS is the state’s obligation to the public employee’s retirement fund,” he said. “It is money that a school district has absolutely no control over.”

Rundle said that lawmakers are expected to “fast track” the bill. The House Appropriations committee gutted Senate Bill 7, inserted the block grant bill into it and passed it out of committee Tuesday morning. It will be debated on the House floor and likely passed either Thursday or Friday.

“We may know something about where they are going with school finance very quickly,” he said. “I’m sure it will look different when we meet in two weeks.”

In other business, the board:

* Approved consent items.

* Discussed plans to serve ice cream sundaes to staff at all three schools to recognize their hard work.

* Accepted a $1,608.53 donation for the Parent Teacher Organization to be used for field trip expenses.

The funds were raised on March 3 at a McTeacher night at McDonald’s in north Topeka. That evening, 20 percent of all sales went towards the RVES PTO

* Received a district budget update from Rundle.

“Our expenditures are on track to meet the working budget,” he said.

* Considered increasing the district’s textbook rental fees. Currently, the district rents textbooks at a cost of $50 per student or $150 maximum per family.

The board is considering increasing the rate to $65 per student or $195 maximum per family.

Rundle said the increase would raise $10,000 for the district, noting that those funds would have to be used for curriculum.

Rundle said that students who receive free and/or reduced lunch have always been able to apply for a waiver to waive that textbook fee if it was unaffordable.

Board members asked Rundle to compile of list of what neighboring school districts charge for renting textbooks before taking any action on the proposed increase.

* Received and approved a request from Nate McAlister, RVMS history teacher, to fire a Civil War cannon at the RVMS History Fair on May 1.

* Approved the lease purchase payment of $387,249.73 to Security Bank of Kansas City. Board members previously agreed to refund the district’s 2013 lease purchase. This is the second payment of the year for that refunded lease purchase.

* Approved the fourth payment of $79,498.80 to Shirley Construction for the construction of the RVHS greenhouse. The greenhouse is almost complete and training on its controls is planned for this month, Rundle said.

* Set the Impact Aid and Title VII budget hearings for 8 p.m. Monday, April 27, at the district office in Mayetta.

* Met in executive session with Rundle, Susan Pfrang, director of curriculum and instruction; Noah Slay, RVES principal; John Linn, RVMS principal; Jim Holloman, RVHS principal; and Charlie Nimz, RVHS assistant principal; for 35 minutes to discuss teacher salary negotiations and non-elected personnel.

Back in open session, the board approved summer teacher contracts with John Nottingham (band lessons), Jake Lott (weights program), Kyle Porter (drivers’ education), Terri Moore (drivers’ education) and Brenda Lambrecht (drivers’ education paraprofessional).

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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