Tuesday, April 2, 2019

USD 331 Bond Press Release - Upcoming Informational Meetings

Press Release


Voters in Kingman-Norwich USD 331 will go to the polls on May 7th to decide if now is right time to make needed capital improvements to schools in Kingman and Norwich.   Voters will be asked to consider two questions for improvements.  One in the amount of $19.075 million and a second in the amount of $3.96 million.

The District has formed a volunteer K.I.D.S. Committee (Keep Improving District Schools) to develop and share information about the District’s challenges, the proposed bond issue solutions, and the cost and effect on taxpayers.  The goal of the KIDS Committee is that every patron and voter in USD 331 has adequate information to make an informed decision about the bond questions.

The KIDS Committee has scheduled two public informational meetings as follows:

Wednesday, April 17th  6:30 PM  Kingman High School Cafeteria
                                    Wednesday, April 24th  6:00 PM  Norwich Cafeteria

The informational meetings are planned for an hour and refreshments will be served.

The Board of Education and Facility Steering Committees have been meeting and considering facility needs for nearly 5 years.    They looked at needs and options costing as much as $36 million.  As that amount of debt was determined to not be affordable, they prioritized the greatest needs and reduced the cost to no more than $24 million.

The Board at a recent meeting went a step further.  They want to give voters choices as to how much and what projects to address at this current time.   Proposition No. 1 would construct improvements at all 3 attendance centers to address safety and security concerns, replace roofs and HVAC systems, and remodel certain spaces.   The plan is also to relocate the 7th and 8th grades to the high school building and demolish this space at the Kingman Elementary/Middle School for operational efficiencies.

Proposition No. 2 would remodel classrooms and support spaces at the Kingman Elementary School and make improvements and acquire needed new playground equipment at Norwich School.

Reduced space to heat, cool, maintain and insure as well as new more efficient mechanical systems are estimated to result in operating savings of approximately $300,000 per year.

The District feels that now is an advantageous time to consider the needed improvements and the bond issue to finance such. Bond Interest rates, estimated at 3.75%, are still low making the cost of repayment more affordable than in the past and USD 331 is currently eligible for additional state aid at a 10% sharing ratio to help pay bond debt service.  The estimated benefit of the state aid is $3,450,000 (both questions).  These are tax monies collected state wide and redistributed to school districts that have approved a bond issue by vote.

USD 331 is also making the last payment on a bond in April that has been averaging a mill rate of 10.37 mills.   The estimated new rate of the Proposition No. 1 bonds is 15.67 mills—a net increase of 5.30 mills above the old bond levy.  Proposition No. 2 approval would require an added mill rate of 3.29 mills.
Both Proposition improvements are needed; however, as mentioned earlier, the Board wants to give voters a choice rather than all or nothing.  As the improvements in Proposition No. 1 are considered the highest priority need, the Board is on record as stating that if Proposition No. 1 is not approved, no bonds will be issued or projects accomplished regardless of the vote on Proposition No. 2.   The choices are then: (1) Proposition No. 1 alone; (2) Propositions No. 1 and 2 combined; or (3) None.

Anyone wishing to become involved with the KIDS Committee is encouraged to contact the District offices at 532-3134.

For more bond issue information, access the USD 331 web site:  www.knusd331.com

Friday, October 19, 2018

KASB Tallman Report: Common questions about Kansas Public Schools Answered

Friday, October 19, 2018

Common questions about Kansas Public Schools Answered

What are the long- and short-term trends in Kansas educational outcomes?

Long-term Kansas education levels have improved steadily for decades and have never been higher, as measured by years of education completedShort-term, the record is more mixed.

A higher percentage of students are completing high school, attending college, and completing college degrees than ever before, both adults over age 24 and recent high school graduates age 18-24.
High school requirements have gotten tougher. Students are taking more courses, and more core academic subjects. Graduation requirements and admissions standards for Kansas universities have increased. These changes are adding value, because average income rises with each additional level of education.

Kansas state reading and math test scores rose in the 2000’s before falling in the early 2010’s. On new tests, scores declined slightly in the past three years.  On national reading and math tests at 4th and 8th grade, Kansas scores rose during the 2000s but have fallen back since 2011. The percentage of students scoring “college ready” on ACT tests increased from 2006 to 2014 but declined the last several years.

The “four year” graduation rate and percentage of students participating in or completing postsecondary education has improved over the last several years (These are new measures).

What are the long- and short-term trends in Kansas school funding?

Long-term Kansas K-12 funding has increased more than inflation, but not in the past ten years.

Prior to 2010, total school funding typically increased about one to two percent more than inflation each year. From 2010 to 2017, funding usually increased at less than the rate of inflation or declined. Even after the Legislature increased funding last year, total school funding was below 2009 levels when adjusted for inflation.

However, Kansas education funding has not increased more than the state’s overall economy. Education funding is at a lower share of the total income of all Kansans it was in 1990.

As noted, long-term educational outcomes have increased as long-term funding increased; short-term outcomes have been mixed as funding didn’t keep up with inflation.

How have school districts used increased funding in the past?

Schools used “real” (more than inflation) increases to improve services to students and maintain quality.

School districts used additional funding to:
  • Cover increasing student enrollment.
  • Keep school salaries and benefits competitive with other states and the private sector (which have usually increased faster than inflation).
  • Lower class sizes.
  • Serve more students in preschool and all-day kindergarten.
  • Expand special education services.
  • Increase funding for safety, mental health and school nutrition.
  • Improve technology and school facilities.

These efforts were limited from 2009 to 2017 as funding fell behind inflation. Districts have begun to restore efforts last year and this year with additional funding approved by the Legislature.

How do Kansas educational outcomes compare to other states?

Kansas ranks at or above that U.S. average on a wide range of education outcomes, and very high when all measures are averaged. But other states are improving faster.

Indicators include national reading and math tests at grades four and eight, graduation rates, ACT and SAT college readiness tests, and high school completion and college participation by 18-24-year-olds. Where possible, this includes data for low-income students and other subgroups. Although many states do better than Kansas on SOME of these measures, very few do better on all or most. Overall, Kansas ranks 9th when these indicators for the most recent year are averaged.

However, in recent years, many other states have improved more than Kansas on these indicators. In other words, other states have been “catching up” with Kansas outcomes.

How does Kansas educational funding compare to other states?

Kansas has consistently spent below the national average and has fallen further behind in recent years.

Since 2008, Kansas has fallen behind further behind the national average. In 2016, the most recent year national data is available, Kansas total per pupil funding was 30th in the nation. Kansas ranked 40th in the increase in funding between 2008 and 2016. Kansas has also fallen behind most states in the region.

How is Kansas school funding used?

Most school funding goes to instruction (direct teaching of students) and other services for students and teachers. Less than five percent is used for general administration and central services. The rest goes to school facility construction, operations and maintenance.

Specifically, 54 percent to instruction; 5 percent to student services; 5 percent to school building principals and staff; 4 percent to transportation; 4 percent to food services; 3 percent to libraries and teacher support; 10 percent to debt service on school construction bonds; 9 percent on operations and maintenance; 2 percent on building construction; 2 percent on general administration and 2 percent on central services. (2017 school district budgets.)

Kansas provides less total per pupil funding than most states, and also less than most states on non-instructional spending, including administration.

Who determines how much schools can spend and how the money can be used?

School funding is mixture of state, local and federal funding, with many “strings” attached.

The Legislature mostly determines how much general operating funding districts receive by setting a base amount per pupil, enrollment weightings and state special education aid; and setting a cap on local option budget. Local school boards a lot of flexibility in how these funds are spent, but some are limited to specific programs, like special education, at-risk and bilingual services.

School building and facilities costs are mostly determined by local voters through bond issues and capital outlay levies. These funds generally cannot be used for general operating purposes.

The federal government provides about 8 percent of Kansas school funding, and about 40 percent of federal funding is food service support. Most federal funds can only be used for specific purposes.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Tuesday, October 16th last day to register to vote in November election

KASB Tallman Report: Path to prosperity: invest in education

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Path to prosperity: invest in education

In the debate over educational funding versus tax cuts, it’s important to understand the economic impact of state spending on K-12 education.

Data on state income levels and poverty rates show a strong positive correlation between economic status and education levels. The same data shows that states spending more on K-12 education have higher income levels and lower poverty rates.

In addition, higher levels of state and local spending per capita also have a positive correlation with higher state income. This indicates that a low tax burden and lower spending do not promote higher incomes and reduce poverty.

Furthermore, states that spend more on education and other public services are more likely to be economically prosperous. This likely because U.S. economy increasing relies on higher-skill employees. Investing more in education leads to a population that is both better educated and more prosperous.

Key points:

  • States with the highest average income tend to have the highest levels of college-educated residents.
  • States with the lowest poverty rates tend to have the highest levels of college attainment
  • The highest-income states tend to spend more on K-12 education.
  • States with a lower rate of taxes compared to income are more likely to have lower incomes and higher poverty for residents than states with higher taxes.
  • Higher spending on education and other public services supports economic growth, especially in an economy that demands higher skilled employees.
In depth:

States with the highest average income tend to have the highest levels of college-educated residents.

There are large differences among states in average income levels. State per capita income (total income of all residents divided by population) in 2017 ranged from a high of about $70,000 (Connecticut) to a low of $36,000 (Mississippi), meaning average income in the top state is almost double that of the lowest state.

The range in the percent of persons over 24 with a four-year college degree or higher is even greater, from a high of almost 45 percent (Massachusetts) to a low of 20 percent (West Virginia). In other words, the state with the highest college attainment level is more than double the lowest state. Kansas ranks slightly above average in per capita income ($47,603, 24th) and well above average in college attainments (33.7 percent, 14th).

Because persons with higher educational attainment on average earn more than those with lower levels, it is no surprise that there is a strong correlation between these measures at the state level. As educational levels rise, income levels rise, with the positive correlation of almost 0.782 (the highest possible correlation is 1.0).

There are similarly strong correlations between percent of population with four-year degrees and both median household income (income of average household of one or more family members) and average earnings (the average amount individuals earn from salaries and wages).

There are also positive correlations between high school completion rates and income, but the correlation is only about half of strong, likely reflecting the substantial additional earning power of college attainment.

States with the lowest poverty rates tend to have the highest levels of college attainment.
There is a strong NEGATIVE correlation between college attainment and poverty; in other words, as college completion rates rise, poverty rates fall.

As with per capita income, the range of state poverty rates among all persons is quite large, from a high of 19.8 (Mississippi) to a low of 7.7 percent in New Hampshire. The Kansas poverty rate is 11.9, 30th in the nation, meaning 29 states have a HIGHER poverty rate than Kansas.

The chart above shows that states with fewer than 25 percent of adults with a four-year degree or higher almost all have poverty rates of 15 percent or higher; while states with at least 35 percent of adults having a four-year degree almost all have poverty rates below 13 percent. The correlation is a negative 0.760. The negative correlation for high school completion and poverty is just as strong.

The highest-income states tend to spend more on K-12 education

Data not only show higher education levels are strongly associated with higher incomes and lower poverty rates, it also clear that higher education levels are almost always supported by higher per pupil funding at the K-12 level.

In fact, the correlation between total revenue per pupil by state in 2016, the most recent year available, and the percent of the population with a four-year college degree in 2017 is 0.787, almost identical to the strong positive correction between per capita personal income and college education levels.

Per pupil funding in 2016 ranged from a high of $25,730[SR1]  (New York) to a low of $8,244 (Idaho). Kansas total per pupil funding in 2016 was $12,245 (headcount enrollment), which was 30th in the nation, while Kansas per capita income [SR2] was 24th – in other words, Kansas ranks higher in per capita income than in per pupil funding.

For example, of the 22 states that exceed the national average in per capita income ($48,720), only four provide total revenue per pupil of LESS than the national average for 2016 ($13,894). On the other hand, of the 28 states below the national average in per capita income, only two provide MORE than the national average per pupil.

Why do higher income states spend more on K-12 education? It is almost certainly both a cause and effect. Additional educational spending allows states to offer higher salaries to educators, promoting higher quality; keep class sizes small to provide more individualized attention; provide more expanded services to students such as early childhood programs, more counselors, librarians, healthy state, school resource officers and programs to help students, families and teachers, and improved school facilities, equipment and technology.

At the same time, states with higher personal income can more easily provide additional school funding. In other words, higher income states may spend more on education in part because they have more income to spend; but they have more income to spend because they have high educational outcomes. Their investment in education has paid off in better economic results; allowing them to continue making that investment.

Although reducing taxes is often touted as a way to promote state economic prosperity, the data does not support the idea that lower taxes as a percent of income result in higher incomes and less poverty. In fact, the reverse is true. There is a 0.304 POSITIVE correlation between higher tax levels as a share of income; in other words, higher tax states are somewhat more likely to have higher per capita income than lower tax states.

While this correlation is not as strong as the correlation between education attainment and income, it certainly does not show that LOWER taxes promote higher incomes.

There is an even smaller, but also negative, correlation (0.157) between taxes as a percent of income and poverty rates, meaning poverty rates are slightly more likely to DECLINE as taxes rise.

Tax collections as percent of income in 2015 ranged from a high of 16.5 percent in North Dakota to a low of 6.2 percent in Alaska. Kansas, at 9.3 percent, was below the national average of 9.9 percent.

This data indicates that tax burden is not as significant a factor in state income and poverty levels as educational attainment, but to the extent it has a relationship, higher tax levels are more helpful than harmful.

Higher spending on education and other public services supports economic growth, especially in an economy that demands higher skilled employees.

Why do higher tax burdens have at least a somewhat stronger association with higher incomes and less poverty than lower taxes? One reason might be that higher spending on public services, including education, has a positive correlation with higher incomes.

For example, total per capita state and local expenditures (in other words, all spending by a state and its cities, counties, school districts and other local governments, divided by population), had a 0.538 POSITIVE correlation with per capita income, and per capita spending on K-12 education had an even stronger 0.689 positive correlation. In other words, states that spend more per capita on public services, especially education, tend to have higher average incomes.

Total state and local expenditures per capita ranged from a high of $19,965 (Alaska) to a low of $6,407 (Idaho). Kansas spending was $8,430, below the national average of $9,003 and ranking 27th.

Why does higher spending on public services have a positive correlation with individual incomes? Likely two reasons. First, many public goods have a positive economic impact on a state. In an increasingly knowledge- and skill-based economy, business will expand and incomes will rise if a state’s educational system produces more skilled residents. In addition, state and local governments provide transportation infrastructure, law enforcement and quality of life services that attract and retain companies and their employees.

Second, states with higher-income residents can more easily afford to provide these services, so they can maintain or expand them. In other words, it is easier for high-income states to remain high-income because they already have the advantages of a more educated population, a strong school system and other public services. On the other hand, low-income states tend to have a lower-skilled workforce to start with, and a lower tax base to draw on for resources to improve education outcomes.

Lower taxes mean individuals may have more “take home” pay in the short term, but they won’t benefit from new jobs if they lack the skills those jobs require; and higher paying jobs are more likely to move to a state with a workforce that has the educational levels to fill them.

Friday, October 5, 2018

KASB Tallman Report: Key facts about school district cash balances

Friday, October 5, 2018

As final school district financial reports for the 2017-18 school year and budget year are being posted by the Kansas State Department of Education, KASB is updating information as well. Here is an update on school district cash balances.

Key Points:

July 1 statewide cash balances dropped this year as a percent of school district expenditures.

Almost all of the increase in cash balances in 2018 was in restricted school district funds, not available for general operations.

Statewide July 1 cash balances are at levels experts say is appropriate for moderate financial risk.

School district operating balance percentages are similar to the ending balances and internal borrowing for the State General Fund, approved by the Legislature and Governor.

School district cash balances vary significantly by month because of cash flow issues.

In Depth:

July 1 statewide cash balances dropped this year as a percent of school district expenditures

The statewide July 1, 2018, total of cash on hand in all funds increased this year, but total school expenditures increased even more. As a result, total cash balances dropped from 33.1 percent to 32.5 percent. The largest share of school district balances is in restricted funds, particularly bond and interest funds to pay for bond payments, and in capital outlay funds, in which districts accumulate cash to pay for capital projects like construction, remodeling and equipment without debt.

Other restricted funds include federal funds, gift and grant funds such as scholarship endowments, insurance reserves and student materials.

The remaining funds have fewer restrictions and are used to support general school district operations. These generally unrestricted funds dropped from 11.3 percent to 10.8 percent of total expenditures, the lowest since 2014 and approaching levels prior to the Great Recession in 2008.

Almost all of the increase in cash balances in 2018 was in restricted school district funds, not available for general operations

Total school districts cash balances increased from $2.016 billion to $2.109 bill from July 1, 2017 to July 2, 2018, but almost of that $93 million was in restricted funds that cannot general education purposes. Cash balances in unrestricted funds changed little and dropped as a percentage of expenditures because school funding increased.

Here the major changes in school district balances from 2017 to 2018:

Overall total, all funds: up $93 million (4.6%)

Capital Outlay: up $36 million (7.3%). Partially due to higher assessed valuation, which meant capital outlay levies raised more revenue than expected. State law limits these funds to building, equipment and maintenance costs, and certain limited building operating costs. Capital outlay levies are subject to voter protest petition.

Bond and Interest: up $26 million (4.6%). These funds are levied to pay for school construction bonds issue approved by local voters, which have increased.

Federal Funds: up $6.1 million (14.5%). These are primarily federal programs to assist disadvantaged students and improve teaching. Cash balances in these funds follow federal requirements.

Gifts and Grants: up $8.5 million (21.5%). These are funds received outside of the school finance formula, such as scholarship endowments and bequests, which are usually tied to specific programs.
Special Reserves: up $6.6 million (5.4%). These funds are reserve for self-insured school district insurance programs, based on actuarial needs.

All other funds: up $9.8 million (2.1%).

Increase in total expenditures: $408.1 million (6.7%).

Statewide July 1 cash balances are at levels experts say is appropriate for moderate financial risk

Unrestricted fund balances are about 11 percent of total expenditures, but a more appropriate comparison is to operating expenditures. From 2017 to 2018, unrestricted cash balances dropped from 16.6 to 16.1 percent of general operating budgets (general fund, local option budget and special education aid). The highest level was 17.5 percent in 2012.

A state efficiency report commissioned by the Kansas Legislature cited a report from the Governmental Finance Officers Association recommending operating reserve levels of 10 percent or less for low economic risk; 10-15 percent for low to moderate risk; 15-25 percent for moderate to high risk and 25 percent of more for high risk. At 16.1 percent, July 1 district cash reserves were 1.1 percent above the line between low to moderate and moderate to high risk.

School district operating balance percentages are similar to the ending balances and internal borrowing for the State General Fund, approved by the Legislature and Governor

While school district July 1 cash balances in operating budgets dropped from 16.6 to 16.1 percent general operating expenditures in 2018, the state general fund ending balance increased from 1.7 to 6.7 percent, and the state used $900 million in internal borrowing through “certificates of indebtedness” for total of 20 percent.

Total school district ending balances in operating funds are comparable to the state general fund ending balance plus certificates that borrow from other state funds. Both provide for contingencies such as reductions in revenue or unexpected expenses and to manage cash flow.

In fact, since 2011 school districts have generally maintained a similar level of cash balances as the state general fund:

School district cash balances vary significantly by month because of cash flow issues

July 1 cash balances are somewhat misleading because they are a “one-time snapshot.” Balances fluctuate significantly through the year because school districts receive revenue in certain months but must pay bills throughout the year. As a result, some funds have high balances when revenue is received but districts must make those funds last over the following months until additional revenue arrives, or to cover shortfall in other funds.

Some examples:
To manage the state’s cash flow, districts are required to account for the final state aid payment each year as if it were received in June, but the state does not actually send the money until after July 1. This amount fluctuates between $200 million and $300 million each year.

School districts must provide special education programs from the beginning of the school year, but state special education aid payments do not begin until October. As a result, districts have high balances in the special education fund to start the year (around $175 million), but those balances fall below $40 million during the year. Districts maintain some reserves for unexpected high cost for students, which can exceed tens of thousands of dollars per year.

Districts have almost $300 million in local option budget funds in March after receiving property tax distributions and state aid, but those balances are almost entirely spent down to zero at other points in the year.

KASB considers restricted funds to include: capital outlay, bond and interest, special liability, no fund warrants, special assessment and adult education (each of which is funded by restricted mill levies), plus federal funds, gifts and grants, school retirement, special reserve (insurance) and the student materials revolving fund.

Unrestricted funds are: special education, special education cooperatives, summer school, food service, contingency reserve, general fund, supplemental general fund (local option budget), virtual education, declining enrollment, cost of living, ancillary, professional development, activities, at-risk four-year-old, at-risk K-12, bilingual, extraordinary school programs, vocational education, parent education, adult supplemental education and driver training.