Bonner schools to make second request for additional funds

October 7, 2015

With an even larger-than-expected enrollment increase, Bonner Springs-Edwardsville USD 204 is going to try one more time to get some Extraordinary Need funding under the new block grant school finance law.

The district previously asked the state for additional funding based on an estimated enrollment growth of 39 students, but it was denied because the State Finance Council determined a district must have a minimum of 2 percent growth to receive funds. With the official head count on Sept. 20, the district now has a total of 77 new students, a 2.8 percent growth, and so the board of education Monday approved returning to Topeka to make another fund request.

Eric Hansen, director of business and human resources, first showed the board how much funding the growth in enrollment would have brought to the district under the state’s previous school finance formula: $300,546.

“That would actually pay for all the new teachers we hired recently,” Superintendent Dan Brungardt said.

The two-year block grant finance law froze the level of state operating funds available to schools at 2014-15 levels. Districts could apply for additional funding through the Extraordinary Need State Aid Program under the law.

In August, USD 204 requested increased funds of $55,136 for estimated increased enrollment but was denied because the estimated increase was less than 2 percent, the benchmark requirement the State Finance Council set for districts to receive funds.

But even if they met that benchmark, districts didn’t receive the amount of funding requested. Basehor-Linwood USD 458, which had an estimated 4.3 percent enrollment increase, requested $358,830 and was granted $192,850.

Hansen said while USD 204 had the actual increase of 77 students, a 2.8 percent increase, if they used the full-time equivalent head count formula, or FTE, under the old school finance law, the enrollment increase was 72.9 students. But even that represents a more than 2 percent growth at 2.49 percent.

Brungardt said based on the actual head count, they would request $69,336; if the state preferred using a FTE head count, then the district’s request is $47,764.

“We don’t know what the rules are right now as far as on what layer we can ask for additional funding — are they gauging it on head count or are they gauging on FTE,” he said.

He said to formulate the amounts of the funding requests, they took into account that the state had already decided it wouldn’t fund a 2 percent enrollment increase, which would be 53 students, or 50.5 FTE, for USD 204. So they took the number of students above the 2 percent level for both head count and FTE and multiplied it by the most recent base state aid per pupil figure.

In other business, the board also discussed reports that would be provided on results of last year’s new state assessment tests for grades three through eight and 10.

The results include median scores, rather than averages, as well as unfamiliar terms like standard error measurements and claims of standards. And that’s just on the information sent home to parents.

“We’re going to get a lot of calls, aren’t we?” Patricia Welicky, board president, asked.

Brungardt said the district was trying to formulate an explanatory letter that will be given to parents with the results, which won’t be available until December. The district plans two more sessions to discuss the new assessment result format at future board meetings.

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