USD 460 Superintendent Paul Becker announced the district will be taking a significant financial hit this year. The decrease in funding comes from a drop in enrollment and a reduction of at-risk funding.
• Becker said state funding will continue to be a topic of discussion in Kansas schools.
“Gov. Brownback proposed a phase-in to fund all-day kindergarten. Right now funding is at .5 and starting next year that will be .6 then .7. What that does for us next year, depending on enrollment, will be around $16,000 that we get in additional funding.
There is also base state aid per pupil scheduled to go up by $14, and that would be another $15,000 or so,” he said.
However, Becker reported enrollment took a dip in USD 460.
“Our enrollment dropped by 24 students this year. If our enrollment would stay the same as it is this year, we would lose $60,000 more on the General Fund and the Local Option Budget, which is based of 30 percent of the General Fund, would drop too. It would be an additional $20,000 if enrollment stays the same,” he said.
Becker said at-risk funding is also a challenge for USD 460.
“We took an over $60,000 cut since our at-risk number dropped by 35 students. That has affected this year,” he said.
• Becker said health insurance costs are becoming a concern for the district as well.
“We have challenge, health insurance coming up for a lot of folks. That went over $60,000 expense last year. It could go up 10 percent or higher next year. That is a possibility,” he said.
• Becker also announced the district will be investigating a slight revision of the one-to-one technology plan.
“We have one-to-one laptops at the high school, laptops and iPads at the middle school and laptops and iPods at the elementary. Our lease expires in July and we are hoping to pay that off with this year’s budget.
“Next year’s budget, we do not have a payment. The technology team ahs been looking at the future and there has been some changes coming. We feel there are more opportunities going one-to-one with iPads at the high school and more devices at Hesston elementary and the middle school.
• New college and career readiness courses have been added at Hesston high.
“These are not exactly like Common Core, but the new college and career readiness is the state of Kansas . We will begin transitional testing at the state level in language arts and math. We are in a little flux and transition with the new standards,” he said.
Becker added students have even more career opportunities.
“Career pathway opportunities have doubled. We started a new robotics program, which is now in its second year and continues to grow and students in competitions now and doing well. We are also looking at a few new courses. We are still working on providing opportunities for students as go on to post secondary education,” he said.
• School security was also addressed as Becker said the district is working with the Hesston Police Department on security drills.
“With the times, school security much more of a topic and one that we take seriously. We are doing lockdown drills we’ve worked something out with Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder to have drills three times a year. One announced, one the police make it unannounced, and a third we will give them a week and say sometime this week. We have learned a lot from those lockdown drills and it is something we have to do now. We are also looking at some other means on the security side, which I’m not going to share w you,” he said.
• Becker reported Hesston High is benefiting from the bump from 4A to 3A in athletics.
“The boys won state cross country, the volleyball team did well and our basketball teams are ranked number 1 in the state,” he said.
• On major issue USD 460 faced was the complete resurfacing of the main gym and auxiliary gym due to the summer flooding.
Becker said an archetectrual firm visited Hesston High to do a drainage study to prevent any further issues.
Becker said a primary problem is water flow on Ridge Road near Hesston Middle school.
“We have a study and plans to alleviate that. Part of the problem, even if we do the things in question, once we get our water away from the school, if it is going to back up anyway near Ridge, it is money spent for no benefit,” he said.
Mayor Dave Kauffman said the City would be willing to work with the school to increase drainage near Ridge Road.