As we head in to the joint hearing on September 26 here are some points to clarify some of the issues:
— Chadron Public Schools continues to be an academic leader across the state. The staff, academics, class offerings, and activities have helped to keep CPS on top.
– Chadron Public Schools have not overspent our budget or our spending authority. We have and continue to be fiscally responsible. We are staying levy neutral with this budget, meaning we are staying at the 1.05 spending lid that is imposed by the state. The increase in property valuation has allowed the 1.05 to bring in more money. We have stayed levy neutral for 20 years or more (I quit after looking after 20 years).
– Valuation is updated yearly by the county by using metrics based on state statutes. Valuation is based upon market value. Land and houses have been selling at inflated rates, thus the increase in valuation across the board. Residential and commercial are 100% and ag is 75% of the market.
–Our valuation went up dramatically. Typically if valuation increases and the student population stays the same state aid will go down. Valuation is a resource in the state funding formula. With this in mind, we do not want to bounce the levy up and down.
–35% of our school district is in the exempt land category. Public lands include more than our recreation areas. With that being said we do receive some in lieu money for Wilderness Protection and Games & Parks ($143,231 for 2022) and Forestry ($51,000 for 2022). If we were to collect money on these properties then we would net $ 1,837,000.
–Our district has operated very frugally. However, we continue to have facility needs, transportation needs, and payroll expenses, and prices have gone up around 20% across the board. Special needs and services have increased.
–Over the past three years, we received Federal ESSER Funds (COVID Relief Funds); funds could only be used for specific things that were approved by NDE. This is not a funding source for 2022-2223 but has offset some payroll and facility costs.
–Over the past four years, we received Federal AWARE Funds (for mental health and trauma-informed schools); funds could only be used for specific things that were approved by NDE. We head into the last year of this grant, with some of these programs not being sustainable.
— Nebraska has always relied heavily on property taxes to fund K-12 education.
— A heavy reliance on property taxes and relatively low state support creates taxing inequities, which have driven much of the debate on how best to finance education.
— The districts with the lowest property wealth also have, on average, the highest tax rates. So while per-pupil spending can vary for many reasons, the fact that those districts with the lowest spending and the lowest property wealth tend to have the highest tax levies warrants further discussion.
— Because the state aid formula relies so heavily on local property values to calculate the resources of schools, the result is that urban school districts need more state aid even though they tend to have higher property tax rates.
— At the same time, the rural districts are seeing a loss of state aid due to increasing agricultural land valuations. However, agricultural landowners are not seeing incomes rise as fast as land values, so more of their income is being taken up by increased property taxes.
— These dynamics have fueled the ongoing rift in the Legislature and pitted urban and rural school districts against each other in the fight for state funding.
— Standard practice is to have 4 to 6 months of expenses in cash reserves, we do not even have 2 months.
Major needs across the district:
Gym roof replacement (still old style)
Hallway tile flooring replaced
Drainage issue east side building
Broken concrete replaced the front of the school/stairs
Fenced in playground
Exterior doors replaced (back door, gym door,)
Bathrooms 1st and 2nd floor remodel
The peaked roof entryway needs replaced
Bathrooms remodeled (all 4)
Classroom carpet replace (computer lab)
Back door replaced
Irrigation for lawn
Driveway/road front of school drop-off replaced
Front doors replaced
Side door replaced (east side hallway)
Bathrooms remodel (1st, 2nd, 3rd floors)
Windows gym replaced
No AC in the gym
Tuck and point brickwork
HVAC phases 2-5
Gym floor sanding
Flooring commons, entryways
Area D flooring
Auditorium house lights changed
Public restrooms (gym area) remodel
Broken concrete sidewalk repairs
Practice field automated irrigation
Roof leak repairs
Cars and vans replace