Why does the USD 247 Board of Education want a Capital Outlay tax?
1) Continues to free up funding for educating students
Every dollar taken away from the General and Supplemental Funds is less money that can be spent directly on educating students. Capital Outlay is set aside specifically for capital expenses (computers, building maintenance, buses, etc.). Without a Capital Outlay tax, those funds must come from other sources, instruction in particular.
2) Costs increase while state cuts possible
Technology, transportation, maintenance, and nearly every other expense continues to rise at a time the state is threatening to cut funding. School districts across the state, especially rural school districts with a large number of students living in poverty, face possible cuts due to flat economy and some state legislators are advocating funding changes that could cost USD 247 as much as $450,000.
The only way to generate additional revenue is using a Capital Outlay tax. It would be for specific types of purchases, most of which are mandatory expenses regardless of the size of the district.
3) State offering to partially match funds raised locally for Capital Outlay
In addition to increasing funding through the local tax base, the State of Kansas matches a portion of those funds. As a poorer community, this school year the state would match about 40% of the local dollars generated – more than $98,000 in 2014-2015. KSDE expects the state aid to continue and not be just a one year arrangement.
The USD 247 Board of Education is asking voters for the authority to collect up to 8 mils annually specifically for Capital Outlay. How much they would actually collect would be up to the board members each year. In the past the board has had the authority to collect Capital Outlay but chose not to because funding from the state was enough to cover the budget. State legislators today have not made education a priority, but future representatives could change that. State funding has always been and will always be a wildcard. Having a locally collected Capital Outlay allows school districts to set aside money specifically for capital items – computers, buses, annual repairs/maintenance and save for large scale repairs (ie parking lots, track surface). This allows districts to have that money set aside and ready to go, regardless of what the state does for instructional funding.