By Leslie Collins
April 18, 2012
Due to declining enrollment and other factors, Kansas City Public Schools must cut $13 million from its budget for Fiscal Year 2012-2013.
Another $5 million must be cut the following year, district officials are predicting.
“We’re a very financially stable district, one that we’re very proud of and one that we want to maintain,” Interim Chief Operating Officer Al Tunis said during the April 10 public budget hearing.
“Enrollment is significant,” he continued. “Decreasing enrollment means less money to the district.”
During the 1998-1999 school year, KCPS enrolled 35,712 students. By the 2003-2004 school year, that number dropped to 26,968 students and for 2011-2012, only 15,402 students were enrolled. KCPS predicts flat enrollment for next year.
Enrollment figures are a major component of the state funding formula, Tunis said.
School districts receive funding based on the average daily attendance (ADA).
“The more students we have and the higher our attendance is, the higher our ADA is and the more funds we receive,” Tunis said.
Meeting attendance rates was one of the state standards KCPS failed to meet to retain state accreditation. According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), KCPS’ dropout rate for 2011 was 26.5 percent and the graduation rate was 55.1 percent. In comparison, the Independence school district logged a dropout rate of 4.2 percent and a graduation rate of 81 percent.
Due to the current economy, the state funding formula will be funded at 86 percent for FY 2012-2013.
Local revenue is also expected to decrease and federal grants are expected to decrease by 15 percent.
On a positive note, Tunis stressed that the state allows a debt ratio of 15 percent of a school district’s assessed valuation. Fifteen percent of the assessed valuation for KCPS is $417 million. However, the district is only using 2 percent ($48 million) of the assessed valuation.
KCPS is also maintaining the operational fund to accommodate two to three month’s worth of operational expenses.
One change district officials made to the budget involves the number of pre-kindergarten seats. During the March 27 budget presentation to the board of education, district officials proposed eliminating 200 seats. Since then, district officials have identified avenues to shift funding to add back 160 pre-kindergarten seats, bringing the total number of seats to 1,086.
To realize a savings of $13 million, KCPS will shift a number of resources, Tunis said.
For the 2012-2013 school year, KCPS plans to adopt a three-tiered approach to student transportation, which would save the district approximately $1.6 million. Currently, KCPS uses a two-tiered transportation system. KCPS would stagger the school day with three different bell times, which would create three bus routes for drivers instead of two. This would allow bus drivers to pick up more groups of students along the way and allow the district to use fewer buses.
KCPS is also paying down old debt, which will save the district $2.7 million in debt service.
Other proposed savings include cutting $693,898 from discretionary funds for schools, which equates to an average loss of $20,000 per school; eliminating the contract with Afrikan Centered Education Task Force Inc. for the Afrikan-Centered Education Collegium Campus, which will save $1.9 million; and using retirement incentives to save $1 million in salaries.
Other savings will come from reducing administration budgets at district headquarters, eliminating unused funds for high school intramurals, not filling up to five secondary teacher positions and up to three visual and performing arts positions, among other saving strategies.
Two more public budget meetings will be held this month on April 17 and April 24 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The April 17 meeting will be held at Manual Career Technical Center, 1215 E. Truman Rd., and the April 24 meeting will be held at King Elementary, 4201 Indiana.
The board of education is scheduled to vote on the budget May 23.