Editor’s note. This article has been updated with new figures. See Wichita School Bond Issue: It’s not the $42.55, it’s the $1,927.
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The proposed USD 259 (Wichita public school district) school bond issue in 2008 is estimated to cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $40 per year in additional taxes. Proponents divide that into a monthly cost of about $3.33 per month, or sometimes a daily cost of $.11, to dramatize how little this bond issue actually costs.
Eleven cents per day per household! Who could oppose such a paltry amount? Especially when bond issue supporters make it seem as though that’s all we spend on schools. But we do, in fact, spend a great deal more on our public schools.
How much more? There’s another number that bond issue proponents don’t publicize. In fact, I’m sure that many of them don’t have an idea of the magnitude of this number. But this number gives us insight into the size and impact of the Wichita school district, and helps us view the district’s spending in context.
What is that number? It’s $1,749. That’s what you get when you take the annual spending of USD 259 ($544,384,275) and divide it by the number of people living within the district’s boundaries (311,228).
That’s how much the Wichita public school district spends each year, per person living in the district. It’s not the same as saying each person is taxed that amount each year by USD 259, as only 31% of district spending is paid for from local sources. The rest came from the State of Kansas (58%) and the federal government (11%). USD 259 residents, of course, pay a good share of those state and federal taxes.
That number — $1,749 in spending by USD 259 per year for each person living in the district — gives us an idea of the huge volume of resources that the district has at its command. It is a tremendous amount of money. Think of all the people you see each day. For each of those people, $1,749 has to be raised each year to pay for Wichita public school spending.
For a household of two adults and two children, $6,996 per year, or $19.17 per day, must be raised through a variety of taxes to support USD 259 spending. Keep this in mind as bond issue supporters ask for another increase in taxes.
Sources of data: Spending figures are for the 2006-2007 school year, from The Kansas Department of Education at http://www.ksde.org/Default.aspx?tabid=1810. The population of USD 259 is from the National Center for Education Statistics at http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/sdds/acs05/index.aspx, from the 2005 American Community Survey data.