Archive for Thursday, July 21, 2005

County sales tax appears headed for renewal tax

July 21, 2005

De Soto USD No. 232 has benefited to the tune of $1.9 million in grants since the inception of Johnson County's quarter-cent school sales tax, and the district hopes that money will keep coming.

Prompted by letters from two of Johnson County's larger school districts, Johnson County commissioners agreed to extend the sales tax.

Shawnee Mission USD No. 512 and Blue Valley USD No. 229 representatives asked for a vote to renew the tax, otherwise set to expire on Dec. 31, with the county's portion of revenue ceded to public schools. Commissioners will continue discussing the proposed resolution July 28, which will likely lead to a September special election.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Marjorie Kaplan said even though only two districts made formal requests to do so, continuing the sales tax would benefit all Johnson County school districts.

Eligible school districts include all attended by Johnson County residents: De Soto, Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Olathe, Gardner Edgerton, Spring Hill and Eudora, which has about a dozen Johnson County students.

De Soto schools dedicated past revenue from the tax to its technology program and would do the same with any future grant revenue, said Ken Larsen, district budget and finance director.

Since the grants' inception, the district has gained $1.9 million, Larsen said. It received $989,000 for the 2004-2005 school year.

Larsen said the money had been essential to district programming.

"We couldn't have done the things we've done in technology without it," Larsen said. "We could not have supported those expenditures out of the general fund."

The Kansas Supreme Court approved a legislative plan July 8 to fund the state's public schools $290 million more than last year. The plan also allows districts to raise their local option budgets from 25 percent to 27 percent of their general budgets.

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