Prairie View board approves spending increase, budget

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

LA CYGNE – The Prairie View USD 362 Board of Education passed a resolution to allow a spending increase and then approved the 2021-2022 budget on Monday, Sept. 13.

Although additional members arrived in time for the regular meeting, only four of seven attended the first of two special meetings before the board’s regular monthly session. Those four – a minimum for a quorum – unanimously approved a resolution that would allow the district budget for 2021-2022 to exceed the revenue neutral tax rate.

During the subsequent budget hearing, Superintendent Rex Bollinger reviewed the proposed budget that outlined more than $19.8 million in expenditures. The superintendent said the general fund budget was higher because of expenditures relating to COVID-19.

He pointed out that, while the mill levy decreased from 11.712 last year to 11.129 for the coming year, as promised to district residents, the total assessed property value of the district increased.

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. Kansas has a statewide assessment percentage of 11.5 percent, so a house with an appraised market value of $100,000 would have a tax assessment value of $11,500. If the tax rate on that residence is one mill, the tax levied would be $11.50.

Bollinger also pointed out that Prairie View’s has more than $11,1 million in bond debt, down from about $11.9 million last year. During the regular meeting, the budget was approved by the board.

The board discussed the announcement earlier in the day that Pleasanton USD 344 Board of Education voted to purchase the former Cox Motors building for a countywide vocational training center for Linn County’s three high schools, including Prairie View.

The superintendent shared that he, Board President Wade Teagarden, and Board Member Brad Stainbrook had previously toured the Cox Motor building in Pleasanton. Because of the location, neither Prairie View nor Jayhawk USD 346 can share ownership in the building.

Fort Scott Community College will provide the programs to Linn County resident students tuition free, and they have surveyed the students in each district to see which programs they are interested in.

The top four areas Prairie View students showed interest in were emergency medical technician, welding, criminal justice, and heavy equipment operator.

“We have our own survey, and we are still collecting data from our students,” Bollinger said.

Pleasanton Superintendent Travis Laver said in a Facebook post, “This has been a dream for several years and is close to coming to fruition.” He went on to share that the building will have renovations completed this winter and spring, and vocational classes will begin August 2022.

Both Prairie View and Jayhawk schools have since shared their own Facebook announcements, and expressed their interest and excitement to support the “vocational education and training for our students right here in Linn County!”

Dan Curtis, parent of a student who recently graduated, spoke to the board during the citizen’s open forum. He said that his daughter’s picture was left out of the senior class section of the yearbook.

He said that he had spoken to staff and to some board members, and he was keeping names out of it for the open board meeting. However, he said the omission “was not an accident or oversight (but) was done intentionally.”

He requested that the district take some action to correct the omission. Curtis explained that his daughter did not walk across the stage to receive her diploma but graduated after completing summer school.

He handed out written documentation of his communication with the school district to all board members present. No action was taken by the board.

In a report on the progress of construction at the high school, the board was advised that construction of counseling offices should be complete this week, followed by the health office next week. The remainder of the front offices should be occupied by mid-October, according to the contractor. Supply shortages in metal and glass have caused delays.

The elevator will be cut through the floor in December, then block will be installed to the ceiling, with the elevator project completed by next school year.

The agriculture department addition slab will be poured this week, and the building should be completed next spring.

The weight room slab will be poured next week, and fire alarms completed by mid-October. There are currently temporary alarms installed, and an employee has to be present to check all parts of the building every hour while it is occupied.

Board Member Russell Pope asked how fire and safety drills could be conducted during construction, and Bollinger replied that there is a safety trail provided for egress out of the building.

Board members approved a change order for the bond project, in the amount of $25,838 to reroute the water line. This does not go over the guaranteed maximum budget.

Teagarden asked for an updated schedule, and the superintendent said he received them every two weeks and would make them available to board members.

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