Geary County finance coordinator concerned about school funding bill

GEARY COUNTY SCHOOLS

The latest school funding bill has Geary County Schools slated to gain $3.8 million in spending power, but the financial coordinator at the school says the number on paper may not be what it seems.

“That number sounds like, fantastic,” says Janet Christian, executive coordinator of finance for Geary County Public Schools – but she isn’t getting excited just yet.

“I don’t want people to have false hope that we’re receiving 3.8 million if that’s not where we’re really headed,” Christian says.

The first cause for concern, Christian says, is because that number only exists if the district increases its Local Option Budget. LOB is the percentage of the general fund that comes from property taxes.

“So we run about 25.5% LOB so going up to 31 would be quite a change for some of our taxpayers,” Christian says.

Then there’s the New Facilities Waiting dollars. That’s additional funding districts get from the state for having a new building opening. The current bill says districts only get the money if the new building is funded through a bond. The new Fort Riley Middle and Elementary schools are both being funded through federal grants.

“That would be about $600,000 for next year, then the second year that we would be into that, we would have both schools and that would be about a $1.1 million loss,” Christian says. She plans to contact five other school districts who may also miss out on the New Buildings Waiting money, to try and get that wording changed in the bill.

She’s also concerned the amount of money they receive for at-risk students may be less.

“One of the things that they’re talking about is they’re reducing and taking the at risk from a different percent down,” Christian says, “And if we’re close to that percent and we miss the cut off, that would be a lot more funding lost.”

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