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Preliminary LPS 2012-13 budget: Lowest tax levy in 40 years; no levy increase
The Lincoln Board of Education met in a work session Tuesday to begin discussion of a $330 million preliminary 2012-13 Lincoln Public Schools budget – a budget that would keep the total tax levy flat and marks the lowest levy in the past 40 years for the third consecutive year.
Due to anticipated increases in assessed property valuation for the community, the school district plans to pay for some additional staff to partially fund for student growth (staff that would be added across the school district). In the past five years LPS student enrollment has seen significant increases while the school district has not fully funded for that growth.
The last time the school district fully funded for growth was 2003-04, according to Marilyn Moore, associate superintendent for Instruction at LPS.
"This is my last chance to address you about the budget," Moore said, referring to her retirement at the end of June, "and these are items that meet some very worthy needs in the schools." When LPS principals heard there was a possibility of additional staffing, she said, "it's amazing how happy we made them."
School Board member Kathy Danek said she did not think the public recognized the cost of funding for the significant growth at LPS. "I want people to understand that we are growing rapidly and we're trying our best to keep class sizes down....I'm pleased with this budget. I always wish we had more money to do additional things, but I believe we are meeting our basic needs."
A few highlights of the proposed budget:
- About 55 percent of the LPS budget is funded by local property taxes, 35 percent with state funds (state aid and special education support), and the remainder with other local, state and federal resources according to Mark Shepard, associate superintendent for Business Affairs at LPS.
- More than half of the budget increases in the LPS budget cover negotiated salary contracts for LPS employees.
- Other budget increases will pay for: costs for operating the new Kloefkorn Elementary School, the new annex at Roper Elementary School, and the new kindergarten "link" or hallway at Belmont Elementary School and the Educare facility.
- The Legislature passed LB131 this past session to provide additional funding for special education in the state, allowing LPS to restore some of the reductions in special education expenditures.
- Critical items that were put on hold last year will be restored with some of the items being paid for utilizing the depreciation fund. Items placed on hold last year included: Technology, insurance fund transfer, implementation of curriculum, equipment purchases and annual maintenance contracted services.
A few numbers to highlight:
- The $330 million preliminary 2012-13 budget is only 2.86 percent higher than last year.
- The school district currently ranks 238th out of 251 school districts in Nebraska for per pupil spending (only 12 districts spend less per pupil than us). LPS spends $8,830 per pupil compared to the Nebraska average of $9,968.
- The budget calls for a slight increase in the General Fund tax levy to a level of $1.050, the full amount allowed by law – but also includes a small levy decrease in what is called the Qualified Capital Purpose Fund, which equals a flat levy.
- Under the preliminary budget local taxpayers will pay the very same property tax rate next year as they did this year. The owner of a $146,150 home – the average residential house in Lancaster County – would pay about $151.78 monthly in property taxes for LPS next school year (the same as this school year).
LPS will offer two Community Budget Forums in June:
- Tuesday, June 26, 5-6 p.m. Room 113 next to the City Council Chambers at the City County Building, 555 S. 10th St.
- Thursday, June 28, 7-8 p.m. at Mickle Middle School, 2500 N. 67th St.
The Lincoln Board of Education will also hold one more work sessions to discuss the budget: Tuesday, July 17, 6 p.m., Bryan Library Media Center at the Hawthorne Building, 300 S. 48th St. The public hearing on the 2012-2013 LPS budget is scheduled for 6-6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, August 14 in the City Council Chambers at the City County Building.
For more information about the Budget, go to: http://www.lps.org/about/budget/ - and scroll down to the Budget Work Session presentation.
Published: June 16, 2012
Updated: June 19, 2012