Parents weigh in on USD 501 budget issues, potential tax increase

Topeka (KSNT) –

“As we look at more cuts, while it may not seem big to folks, it takes a lot of money to run a school district,” says Topeka Superintendent Dr. Julie Ford.

When it comes to the Topeka school district, it takes about 255 million dollars to run.

The budget cuts Ford says needed for next year are about 1.6 million dollars. That is less than half of one percent of the district’s overall budget.

“Things that could be cut, we’re looking at a lot of non-teaching positions,” says Ford.

Also proposed were cuts to athletic programs and summer school..

Some voters wonder, why then, if the cut is less than one percent, does the impact seem so drastic? So KSNT News had some local families compare the cuts to their own home budgets.

“No, it wouldn’t be that hard.”

“A percentage of a percentage? Would not, no. Because I blow that much money on things we don’t need.”

“It’s definitely doable. Just cut out more eating out and extra curricular miscellaneous, like shopping. But it’s not like it would affect the mortgage bill, or the groceries, or the gas.”

But even if those Topeka residents thought the districts could easily modify their budgets, some are still willing to shell out for schools.
Last night the Topeka school district said it will ask voters to potentially get them out of a financial hole. The Topeka and the Auburn-Washburn school district have each approved a ballot measure to ask voters to increase property taxes to avoid cuts- if they don’t get enough money from the legislature.

“I think if it’s that little of an amount, then lets do it, so that they don’t have to cut anything and they can keep the programs going,” says one Topeka resident.

“Raise their property taxes if it’s absolutely necessary.”

The Shawnee County Elections Office says these special elections won’t be cheap. The Topeka 501 election will cost the district just under 213,000 dollars. The Auburn-Washburn election will cost about 104,000 dollars.

Some Topeka residents say they still aren’t convinced that they should pay.

“Half a cent here, half a cent there, it adds up.”

“I kind of wonder where all the money goes and if it’s padding the superintendent’s pocket, or if it’s actually going to the teachers and the kids. “

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