KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Public Schools look like they’ll receive a financial windfall from increased assessed property valuations.
FOX4 pressed school district officials to find out how much that potential windfall might be.
There were dozens of charts and boards with figures at the meeting Wednesday, but none included the KCPS budget prior to this year.
In June KCPS passed a budget planning to spend $348 million of the $494 million it projects to have available resources this year — leaving a balance of $145 million remaining.
“Sometimes there are additional funds left over if we are unable to fill positions we are in the middle of a teacher shortage but we also are in the middle of a staffing shortage in general,” KCPS Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Collier explained.
The district has had the same levy for more than 25 years.
“Nineteen times of tax levies being voted down without an increase that resulted in the Federal Court saying we are going to set your tax levy at $4.96,” (per $1,000 assessed value) a district official told the audience.
That ruling means its exempt from having to roll back any potential windfall as assessed valuations in Jackson County this year collectively went up more than $ 1 billion. The average home went up 35%.
The district points out its levy is already second lowest of school districts in Jackson County, only ahead of Grain Valley. Another chart showed since 1999 only Lee’s Summit has lowered its levy overall. And unlike other district’s operating levies, KCPS has to cover everything with its levy.
“It covers all of our staffing, all operational needs. It also covers some of our capital. Like other districts we have not passed a bond here in over 50 years, so we don’t have capital funds that come in for that purpose,” Collier said.
Presentations covered $350 million to $400 million in deferred maintenance to HVAC systems and buildings the district needs to fund. A general obligation bond has been discussed to be placed on the ballot in 2024.
So how much does the district stand to gain if it doesn’t roll back the levy?
KCPS Budget Director told the crowd with appeals its projecting it will only get 85% of the $260 million they’d be due now. She projects they would actually receive nearly $4 million less than the $221 million already budgeted.
FOX4 asked how much that budget went up?
“It was about $30 million less that was about our increase pretty much with the assessed valuation,” she responded.
That windfall could be anywhere up to $40 million higher if homeowners don’t get as much off in their ongoing appeals as they are projecting.
The school board is set to decide here whether to roll back the levy on Sept. 27 after a public hearing.