Members of the Topeka Public Schools Board of Education approved the publication of the 2017-18 budget during an 18-minute special meeting Thursday.
Gary Menke, Topeka Unified School District 501’s general director of fiscal services, told board members the $268.8 million proposed budget reflects several million more dollars the district is getting in state aid after state lawmakers replaced the block grant formula of the past two years with a per-pupil funding formula in June.
Most of the additional dollars, Menke said, will go to at-risk funding, special education and KPERS payments. He emphasized that the proposed budget reflects the maximum amount that might be needed for the coming school year, but actual expenditures might end up being less than what is budgeted. He also said the district’s mill levy, 50.671 mills, is a o.198 decrease over the 2016-17 mill levy of 50.869.
“We’re building budgets based around kids and their needs. That’s beneficial to Topeka Public Schools kids,” Menke told board members. “I think we’ve managed the budget to keep the mill levy where it’s at.”
“We have the best paid and best insured workforce” without the mill levy increase, board member Patrick Woods added.
With approval of the publication of the budget, board members are expected to vote on the budget after a public hearing during their Aug. 24 board meeting.
Some of the proposed $3.8 million increase in at-risk funds are expected to be used at USD 501’s alternative school that will open after Labor Day in the former Avondale West Elementary school.
Also Thursday, board members approved the hiring of Julia Crain as Eisenhower Middle School’s dean of students. District spokeswoman Misty Kruger confirmed the position is the same as “dean of student intervention” that is posted on USD 501’s employment page.
According to the online job description, a few of the responsibilities of the dean of students include the ability to “implement and support a data-driven tiered intervention system; support and coach classroom management and trauma-informed practices; develop interventions for student discipline issues; coordinate and manage interventions to improve attendance and address truancy matters; serve as a liaison to community organizations, police and probation officers; and effectively utilize data to monitor and improve discipline outcomes, and to reduce drop-outs and chronic attendance issues.”
Kruger said a dean of students is also expected to be hired for Ross Elementary.
Superintendent Tiffany Anderson and board member Peg McCarthy didn’t attend Thursday’s meeting.
Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or follow her on Twitter @AngelaDeines.