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The Wichita Public Schools' Board of Education got a more detailed look at the budget for the 2012-2013 school year as it heads toward approval for official publication on Aug. 16.
In the meantime, the district is fighting off misconceptions, starting with the rise in base state aid per pupil by $58.
"I've talked with quite a few folks in the community who say, 'That's great, you've made up all that money you've lost,'" said Superintendent John Allison. "I have to remind them that $58 in gain doesn't nearly offset the over $600 per pupil we've lost over the last couple of years.
"It's positive because for the first time in a number of years we have a little additional ... but we're still at 2001 funding levels."
The base state aid peaks at $4,433 in February 2009. For the upcoming year, it will rest at $3,838.
While the district is operating on a more than $628 million budget, Allison also stresses that some of the funds are untouchable for cuts. About $373 million - or nearly 60 percent - is in restricted funds such as special education, bond and interest or capital outlay.
The unrestricted budget, including areas such as the general fund and supplemental general fund, is about $254 million.
"Folks oftentimes look at our whole budget and say, 'You were needing to cut $20 million out of a $600 million-plus budget' - but it's coming out of that about $250 million side," Allison said. "That's always the tough part to explain."
The district also puts about 87 percent of its funding into areas it cites as "direct student costs," such as instruction, nurses, librarians and technology.
"Oftentimes you hear the rhetoric of 'we wouldn't have issues around school finance if we just got the money to the classroom,'" Allison said. "When somebody makes that comment, they're ill-informed, because that is exactly what Wichita Public Schools has done."
Enrollment in the district continues to reach its highest levels, topping out with a headcount of 50,103 for this past year. It is the third consecutive year the figure has reached over 50,000 students.
Property taxes in the district will also remain flat for the upcoming year at 57 mills.
The official public hearing and budget approval are slated for the Aug. 27 BOE meeting.