LOB increase placed on election ballot
The school district's proposed increase to its local option budget will be on the Aug. 1 primary election ballot. The school board unanimously voted to put the issue before the public following a successful protest of the increase through a petition organized by community members.
"We need to determine when we want to have an election on the LOB," said Supt. James White. "We need to notify county election officer Patty Jaimes by May 14, or it will be voided."
In March, the school district approved increasing the local option budget from 12 percent of the general fund budget, which is the state average, to 25 percent, the maximum allowed by the state.
The local option budget is used by Kansas school districts as a supplement to their general funds. White said a 25 percent LOB would generate about $1.5 million, compared to about $750,000 at the current 12 percent. The school district had the funds earmarked for capital improvements, teacher salaries, technology, the charter school and band instrument purchases.
Organizers of the petition thought the public should have the option to vote on the increase. Renee Richard, a petition organizer, said petition supporters also opposed the tax increase. The owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $240 a year more in taxes or $20 a month.
White said the board could have considered an earlier, special election. However, he said the state average for local option budgets should raise to 16 or 17 percent, allowing the district to increase to the same percentage. White does not anticipate the district needing more than the 16 or 17 percent for projects in the next year.
"I think we will be all right at this point," White said. "If we get rejected by the patrons, we can put all the items together in a bond issue."
Board president Ed Schulte said, as the election nears, the board will sponsor public forums to inform the public about the local option budget.
The LOB increase would fund a five-year capital improvement plan, including band instrument replacement at $25,000 per year.
Other plans call for:
A $100,000 renovation of the Baldwin Elementary School gym, as well as installation of air conditioning in the Baldwin Junior High School gym the only place in the district that doesn't have it for an anticipated cost of $200,000.
A $440,000 addition at Vinland Elementary school, where the library doubles as a music room and a computer lab.
A $540,000 building addition at Baldwin Junior High School, in conjunction with spending $120,000 for parking and bus/vehicle pick-up and drop-off at BJHS.
A $120,000 renovation of the BJHS auditorium and an $80,000 district office addition.
A $1.5 million auditorium addition and parking lot expansion at Baldwin High School.