Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bill proposed to end state school bond aid

January 22, 2009

A bill introduced Jan. 14 in the Kansas Senate’s Ways and Means Committee could effectively suspend state aid for construction bonds issued between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2011, if passed.

The bill, introduced last Tuesday, would wreak havoc for De Soto USD 232 and community members.

District voters approved a bond not to exceed $75 million for the expansion of Mill Valley High School to a capacity of 1,400 students, expansion of De Soto High School to a capacity of 1,000 students and build a new elementary school at 58th and Belmont.

Senate Bill-20 would suspend aid to the $900 million in new school bonds approved by voters throughout the state last fall, unless bonds were issued prior to Jan. 1, 2009.

A suspension of the state aid would mean district taxpayers would have to foot the bill.

Alvie Cater, USD 232 community relations director, said the district was projecting to receive 13 percent to 20 percent state aid for the bond. The district contacted its financial advisor figure the consequences if the district were to spend all $75 million of the bond without state aid.

The bill still needs to be heard by the Ways and Means Committee before it could move onto the Senate floor. The committee is currently working on the governor’s budget proposal, and may not see the bill until late this week.

Superintendent Sharon Zoellner said it was still a bit early to make predictions on whether the bill would go anywhere.

“I have shared my concerns that it not only would impact the school district, but it would be a tax increase and it would hurt the state’s economic development,” she said.

Cater said the bill illustrates the complexity of the state budget.

“They are going to have to make these types of decisions,” he said.

The Kansas Association of School Boards reported two other bills aimed to help school district during the fiscal crisis were introduced to the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week.

*Senate Bill 21 would allow school boards to adopt special capital outlay levy up to two mills, for up to two years to finance utility and insurance services, including natural gas, electric, water, telephone, sewage and solid waste disposal. Insurance includes medical, health, dental, fire and casualty, and property. The levy would not receive state aid.

*SB 22 would allow school boards to issue “no fund warrants” for the purpose of paying teacher salaries and benefits if the board determines that the revenues of the current school year for the general fund of the district are insufficient to finance the adopted budget of expenditures.

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