Thursday, June 26, 2008

More USD 259 Deception


Today I happened to stumble across a nice little chart that is titled "2007 Mill Levy Comparison" on the USD 259 website. Looking at the chart, one would immediately surmise that the mill levy for Wichita Schools is lower than surrounding districts. In fact, the chart contains this little blurb "Adding 3.5 mills would still keep Wichita the lowest in the area".

Well how about that? Wichita has the lowest mill levy rate in the area! As you might expect, the USD 259 PR department isn't on the level. In fact, they are being purposely deceptive and their claim is patently false.

Lets take a look at three sets of numbers for local school districts...

+++++++++++Bonds++++Rec Com+++Total Mill Levy++++Total to Dist
Wichita ------5.88(9.38) ----0.00--------53.23 (56.73) --------53.23 (56.73)
Derby --------5.78------------6.89---------51.39------------------44.5
Valley Cen---14.96-----------4.42---------57.73------------------53.31
(not SG County)

A bit of explanation before we dive in: These numbers are from the Kansas Department of Education website from 2007. The "Bonds" column represents total mills to cover the cost of Bonds and Interest. The "Rec Dept" is the mill levy for local recreation departments. "Total Mill Levy" is all categories, including those not on this chart. The final category is the total amount that the school district actually receives.

Under Kansas law, cities or school districts can bear the responsibility for collecting the property tax for a local recreation commission. It is essentially a pass through and the schools districts do not keep those tax revenues. Why does it matter? It doesn't. However, if the USD 259 PR folks had not added the total irrelevant Recreation Commission numbers into their calculations, USD 259 would not show the lowest mill levy as they claimed.

In fact, Wichita is 8th of the 10 Sedgwick County districts, and would jump to 6th in overall mill levy with an additional 3.5 mills to cover the bond issue.

It's interesting that the 259 officials would bring up the Recreation Commission revenues. In the last column, I subtracted the Rec Com mills to get a figure of the mill levy amount that is actually going to the school district. Currently, Wichita ranks 6th of 10 school districts. With an additional 3.5 mills, 259 would jump up to 4th.

Here's the rub, besides the dishonesty of the 259 leadership in putting this together, the proposed school bond will drive the total mill levy in USD 259 higher than Maize. In real terms, USD 259 would even receive a higher mill levy than Andover Schools.

If the Wichita School Board is complaining about families moving out of the district now, wait until the raise the mill levy higher than the 'rich' districts while still not improving the 76% graduation rate.

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