Wichita Public Schools Seeks Authority To Raise Local Tax Rates

Feb 11, 2019

Wichita Public Schools Board of Education voted 6-1 to ask the State Board of Education for the authority to raise local tax rates.

The Wichita board called the request a safety net in case the state legislature does not provide the funding the district says it needs.

"I can tell you after five straight years of cutting budgets I'm not going to do it again," said board vice president Mike Rodee. 

If approved, the board would not have to raise the tax rate. But it would have the flexibility to do so if the board feels it's necessary.

The move could raise about $12 million dollars a year from a mix of local tax dollars and state aid that would automatically go up with a higher tax rate. The district said higher rates would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $18 a year.

Board member Stan Reeser was the lone vote against the motion. He wanted the vote delayed until March for more time to evaluate the option.

The school board voted on the measure after it was first brought up during a budget presentation by the district's chief financial officer, Susan Willis. She said if state legislature does not provide additional state funding, the higher tax rate would be used to cover payroll, new positions and fixed costs.

If more state funding is allocated, she said raising the rate could fund future initiatives or cover deferred expenditures.