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Wichita School District Projects High Cost Increases For The Next Year

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Abigail Wilson
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Wichita Public Schools could face up to $27 million in cost increases for the 2017 fiscal year. The district’s top financial official discussed the number on Tuesday to provide a first look at the challenges ahead with no increase in state funding in the foreseeable future.

USD 259’s budget is essentially the same as it was last year, but with high amounts of projected cost increases, the district’s CFO Jim Freeman says adjustments will have to be made.

“We’re looking at somewhere between 14.7 million and 27.3 million dollars of projected costs increases that we’re going to have to figure out some way to address through our budget process,” he says.

The increased costs are for things like utilities, transportation, enrollment and textbooks. The largest projected increase is the district's self-funded health insurance system. Freeman says some of the increases absolutely have to be met for the district to continue operating, which means there will have to be cuts made somewhere else.

"If we can’t cut on the operations side, we’re going to have to cut on the education side in some fashion," Freeman says.

The budget process is still in its early stages and the numbers will likely change, but with a contingency reserve that only could cover about six days of operating expenses, Freeman says tough decisions will definitely have to be made.

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