USD 247 saved $1.2M by closing a school – where did that money go?

Due to declining enrollment the McCune grade school had been operating at a loss for several years. The state and local funds coming in for the number of students at the building did not offset the cost of operating and maintaining the building.

The first few years, the buildings in Cherokee in Weir did not have the capacity to absorb those students so the building was kept open. As enrollment continued to decline the other buildings did have the capacity but the USD 247 Board of Education chose to keep the building open, despite the financial cost. In 2013-2014, for example, USD 247’s buildings were at 40% capacity.

Between enrollment decreases, changes in state funding and increasing expenses, 2014-2015 became the tipping point and the school district could no longer afford to keep the building open.

$845,000 was identified as being directly spent on the McCune building. Another $400,000 was identified as being that campus’s “share” of expenditures that were district wide.

The Board of Education recognized the need to address the losses in revenues and increased expenses, listed below, and acted accordingly.

As expected prior to the closure, expenses that are mandatory and necessary continue to increase.

Additional/increasing expenses starting in 2013-2014…

  • $250,000 – annual funding cut – the state of Kansas dropped our General Fund by $188,000 and Supplemental Fund (LOB) by $61,000.
  • $165,000 – annual payroll increase – To remain competitive in pay to be able to recruit new teachers and retain its current teachers as well as essential supporting staff members the district had to make up a couple of years of frozen pay and pay cuts.
  • $160,000 – annual potential savings lost – Two teaching positions were reduced instead of six in order to provide students with academic support (MTSS) and small class sizes.
  • $60,000 – required purchase of wheelchair lift buses.
  • $60,000 – increase in annual funding for district paid college classes. (USD 247 reimburses families whose students get B or higher in dual credit college courses at the district)
  • $35,000 – annual health insurance costs increased due to the Affordable Care Act.
  • $20,000 – annual Special Education costs increased.
  • $20,000 – annual purchase of SHS/SJHS iPads.

$770,000 SUB-TOTAL

Starting in 2014-2015…

  • $200,000 – more annual funding cut – the state of Kansas dropped General Fund by at least $156,000 and the Supplemental Fund (LOB) decreased $44,000.
  • $150,000 – required handicap access remodeling compliance expenses for 1993, 1997 and 2003 buildings not built to American Disabilities Act code.  Savings were used to start these projects.
  • $80,000 – addition of Elementary Counselor and SHS math teacher – annual.
  • $44,000 – annual health insurance costs increased again.
  • $10,000 – annual Special Education costs increased again.

$484,000 SUB-TOTAL

$1,254,000 TOTAL

PLEASE NOTE: The $210,000 for the wheelchair lift buses and ADA are one-time expenses but they still had to be paid last year/this year, and this list does not include continuing price increases of the other items listed or other capital expenses.

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