The Shawnee Mission School District will start the school year with a budget that generally avoids the deep cuts of previous years, but also doesn’t leave room to restore those losses. The schools are getting no additional per pupil state support and are not allowed any additional property tax increases to raise local funds.
The school board this week approved a budget that holds the mill levy essentially flat and shows a small surplus in the $214 million operating portion of the budget. That surplus, however, could disappear when an agreement is reached on a new teachers contract.
The budget as passed contains no funding for increased salaries and the district has been at impasse in contract negotiations. Teachers started the school year under the old contract terms. In the last couple of years teachers have received one-time stipends and not always an adjustment to the wage scale.
Any new agreement will drawn down from the $1.9 million that currently shows up as a surplus in the operating funds. Although premiums have increased, the district also has capped its monthly health insurance contribution to employees in the new budget.
Russ Knapp, budget and finance manager for the district, presented a budget to the board this week that includes a reduction of 12.9 teachers across the district. Knapp said the budgeted teaching reductions were based on normal staffing for a predicted student decline this school year. Actual enrollment numbers won’t be known until September.
The school district has cut millions of dollars from its budget going back to 2009, losing more than 400 employees and closing several schools. Significant reductions were avoided last year by spending down the operating fund balance by approximately $2 million. The new budget shows no additional balance spend-down.
The total mill levy actually falls slightly to 55.555 mills. The district does not have the ability to raise the mill levy higher. The rates are subject to a state formula and Shawnee Mission captures the maximum possible, including for the local option budget portion.
A number of budget documents and explanations for Shawnee Mission schools are available here.