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Saturday’s Easter Egg Hunt on the Jackson County Courtyard was a family affair for the Mark and Cassie Wohlin family of Holton. Here, Cassie (at right) offered one-year-old daughter Nora (left) a piece of candy hidden inside one of the eggs Nora found, while Mark (second from left) helped two-year-old Caycey go through her Easter egg haul. Holton Main Street and Evangel Youth Fellowship sponsored the event. (Photo by Brian Sanders)

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Saturday’s Easter Egg Hunt on the Jackson County Courtyard was a family affair for the Mark and Cassie Wohlin family of Holton. Here, Cassie (at right) offered one-year-old daughter Nora (left) a piece of candy hidden inside one of the eggs Nora found, while Mark (second from left) helped two-year-old Caycey go through her Easter egg haul. Holton Main Street and Evangel Youth Fellowship sponsored the event. (Photo by Brian Sanders)

Five-year-old Maddex Honas (right) followed the instructions of Jackson Heights kindergarten teacher Tiffany Zule (left) as she tested him on his motor skills during Friday’s Kindergarten Roundup at Jackson Heights Elementary School. Early childhood instructor Kay Smith said a total of 18 children had been registered to start kindergarten classes at Heights in the 2014-15 year as of Friday. (Photo by Brian Sanders)

These Jackson Heights High School students were the last to arrive for the school’s prom Saturday after the limo they rented broke down. It didn’t faze Adam Amon (center) and his date, Christianna Bourbina, though, as they were all smiles as they were introduced to a crowd of family and community members by emcee Tim Ahlgren (right). Also waiting to be introduced were Dustin Davis and Kelsey Coe (in green) and Lance Coe and Jessica Blum. (Photo by Ali Holcomb)

Royal Valley Middle School bands performed a spring concert Monday evening at the high school. Here, the fifth-grade performed three songs, including “The Victors March,” “Blue Note Rock” and “March of the Romans.” Clarinet players pictured include (from left) Rilee Kreuzburg, Elizabeth Sutton, Alyssa Carlisle, Hvlwa-Este Coon, Hayley Harman and Sidney Patterson. (Photo by Ali Holcomb)

State offers Holton 55 percent match on new school

By Brian Sanders

If the bond issue for a new Holton elementary school passes in the May 6 election, and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback allows a controversial school funding bill to become law, Holton district tax­payers would not have to bear as much of a tax increase for a new school as previously estimated, ac­cording to USD 336 Superintendent Nancy Meyer.

It had been reported that the State of Kansas would cover 52 percent of construction costs for a new elementary school that would house students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. But now, that figure has been adjusted upward to 55 percent, meaning that of the proposed $21.5 million cost of school construction — the amount of the bond that is being sought —district patrons would only have to cover $9.675 million of that cost over a 20-year period.

Meyer said that amounts to an increase of about 14 mills in the property tax levy for the district, but if the controversial school funding bill passed late on Sunday, April 6 by the Kansas Legislature becomes law, it could decrease the total USD 336 mill levy even further for district patrons. She also noted the funding bill was not related to, nor would it have an effect on, the bond issue for the new school.

“There’s a possibility that we could lower our taxes here next year and really not have to raise 14 mills,” Meyer said. “We might just have to raise the difference of five or six mills to build a new building. That would be good, but we really can’t do anything until the gover­nor signs the bill. That’s what we’re waiting on.”

Sub for House Bill 2506, if it be­comes law, would provide the Holton district with $369,000 in tax relief money, and Meyer said that with the district receiving $42,098 for each mill in the property tax levy, the relief amounts to an 8.75-mill drop in the levy. Brownback has to take some kind of action on the bill by Saturday, it was re­ported.

“If they follow through with it, instead of getting that $369,000 from our local option budget like we normally do, they’re going to give us the money directly, so the taxpayers would have that much less to raise to support our local budget,” she said. “If that is the case and we go down that 8.75 mills, we’re still needing 14 mills for a bond. The difference is about five or six mills over what we’re normally paying, so it would really reduce it.”

The bill — which has raised the ire of Kansas educators and school administrators because it eliminates teacher tenure and cuts some funding for at-risk students — can either be signed by Brownback, or it can be allowed to automatically become law if he does not sign it by Saturday, it was reported. Meyer said that if Brownback vetoes the bill, it would go back to state leg­islators.

“Until it’s signed, or not signed, I can’t really speculate on it,” she said.

Concerning the $21.5-million bond issue, approved earlier this year for a May 6 special election, the original 52-percent state aid match was increased to 55 percent, based on property valua­tions in the county, Meyer said. That amount could go up or down, year to year, she said.

If the bond issue passes, the 14-mill increase on its own would amount to an annual property tax increase of $161, or $13.42 per month — less than 45 cents per day — for the owner of a house in the Holton district valued at $100,000. It had been reported that the me­dian home value in Jackson County is $119,300.

For commercial property valued at $100,000, the annual increase is $350, or $29.17 per month. To cal­culate the annual and monthly property tax increases that would go into effect if the bond issue passes, visit co-usd336-ks.schoolloop.com/calc and enter the market value of your residential or commercial property or the per-acre use value of your agricultural property.

Meyer said that a new informa­tional flyer has been prepared for district patrons that further explains why the state aid is now at 55 per­cent, as well as provides informa­tion designed to better educate dis­trict patrons who may still be op­posed to the bond issue.

“I had a patron come in, saying he’d called the state and we’re kind of lying about the 55 percent, that it’s actually 52 percent and it could drop to 49 percent,” she said. “I asked him who he’d talked to, and he said he couldn’t remember. So I contacted my people and asked where that information came from, and I have the actual printout from the Kansas State Department of Education that shows that we will get 55 percent aid for the 2014-15 school year.”

The voter registration deadline for the May 6 election was Tuesday, April 15, it was reported.

Author's note: The above article was completed and published prior to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's signing of the education funding bill on Monday.


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