Wichita School Bond Issue: It’s not the $40, it’s the $1,749

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.

4 Comments

  • Anonymous -

    I am just starting to learn about school finance and politics. I found your blog the new fashioned way (google that is), and I am so far appreciating your point of view. I have a question, with the $1,749 per person amount, how much is actually spent in maintaining the school. If you take out the cost to run the schools (utilities, salaries, insurances, and whatever other items I couldn’t fathom) how much $ is left to either improve or at least keep current the school district?

  • Anonymous -

    I think the number for comparison purposes that I want to know is home much per pupil is it costing? With this number we can compare Wichita to other cities, and Kansas to other states.
    I appreciate the break down of income from city, state and federal sources. So, for 11%, we have to take orders from Washington, right? Bad bargain in my mind. The lack of autonomy, or control makes people have a “What’s the use?” mentality. I makes people feel a loss of control, a helplessness to change without knowing if it is some how unacceptable so someone else, such as the Feds. For a few bucks the Feds can throw the schools for a loop, argue over God, sex, evolution. Just plain stupid.
    In fact, I think one of the biggest problems with schools in America is the lack of market choice in schools. Let the money follow the pupil, let him choose the school. Then schools will compete for students.

    As far as the idea of No Child Left Behind, I think that is rediculous. Some will have to be left behind. Some just plain dont want move along to graduating. They don’t care. You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make him drink.

  • From the Kansas State Department of Education, for USD 259, school year 2006-2007, spending was 544,384,275. FTE enrollment was 45,231.9. My calculator says that’s $12,035 per student.

  • Anonymous -

    It is unfortunate this passed the vote, once again USD259’s spending goes unchecked and out of control!! Have they ever considered bringing in consultant’s before they just run out and ask for more money?

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