Back to School: 2016
‘You have to get it just right’
Just a few years ago, Kings leaders were describing the district as “landlocked.” In other words, not likely to grow much beyond its current population
How times have changed. Today, not only is Kings growing … it’s growing fast.
How fast? At about this time last school year, there were nine new housing developments planned or already under construction within Kings’ borders, with an estimated 1,200 new units among them. But since spring, Kings leaders have learned that the number of developments has grown to 11.
It appears that Kings Local Schools has itself a housing boom. So far, these are just some of the early impacts of the boom:
- This year, the district was expecting about 60 new students to come into the district. By the time the first class bells rang on Aug. 17, Kings had 230 new students.
- Current enrollment is up 5.5 percent over last year. There are now 4,335 students attending Kings Local Schools.
- Projections show that by 2020, Kings enrollment will increase by 23%; enrollment is projected at over 5,000.
- This year’s kindergarten class has 385 students in it. This is the largest class in the district. There are only two classes, kindergarten through 12th grade, that are smaller than 300 students (and those two classes are at 298 students).
Some measures have already been taken to accommodate the sudden influx of kids into every school building, but the real question for district leaders is how to pay the bills.
Last year Kings brought in about $43.8 million dollars to pay out $43.5 million to operate. This year the district expects to bring in $41.4 million while needing to pay out $43.5 million to operate.
Obviously this is a problem, caused mostly by the lack of state funding — which district officials say has not increased for Kings since 2010. And 2010 was also the last year Kings voters approved an operating levy. That levy was supposed to last three years, but a long list of district-wide cost-cutting measures stretched those funds to six years.
Now the school board has decided that in order to keep afloat, Kings needs to pass another levy. District Superintendent Tim Ackermann has placed a lot of emphasis on getting community input on any decisions, and has hosted a number of community forums over the past year to gauge public opinion on the matter.
According to a district FAQ page, voters will consider a 6.2 mill levy projected to raise $4.6 million for the district. It is labeled as an operating levy because it pays for operations — not construction. Last year, a levy was also passed, this one however, was a ‘permanent improvement renewal levy’ meaning it was used for things like textbooks, safety and security, furniture, and equipment. That levy did not increase taxes in any way.
“We don’t like asking people for money,” Ackermann said. “There’s a certain threshold, and if you pass that, people are less willing to give. You have to get it just right.”
The last operating levy in 2010 was a larger, 6.9-mill levy, but passed with 60% of the vote. Ackerman has scheduled two more “Talks With Tim”: 7 a.m. this Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the Corwin Nixob Blvd. Starbucks in Lebanon; and 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 at Buck’s tavern in Loveland.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Turnout is expected to be high due to the Presidential race.
By J. Marketos