Kearney Public Schools sees drop in enrollment due to COVID-19, increases taxes

Kearney Public Schools sees drop in enrollment due to COVID-19, increases taxes

KEARNEY, Neb. (KGFW) – Kearney Public Schools Board President Kathy Gifford joined KGFW’s Talk of the Town to discuss changes that will be made due to COVID-19. First will be the property tax levy.

“I don’t know for sure what will happen the following year or the year after that which we always think about when setting our budget. We eventually came to a consensus to lower the levy to $1.21 based upon some increase in state aid, not anywhere near where we were like six years ago. This is a problem since this is a growing community.”

Despite the one-cent levy decrease, the KPS Board actually increased taxes. Because of increasing property valuations, members would have needed to set the levy at just under $1.20 to be revenue neutral compared to last year.

These decisions are being made due to a change in enrollment.

“We do have a little bit lower enrollment than last year which is the first time we’ve had a lower enrollment. Just because of parents choosing homeschooling for their children during this time of COVID-19. That’s an unknown, we don’t know how that will work out for the following school year. It’s kind of a tricky balance for us to keep those things in mind but we’re getting through it.”

Gifford says that state aid will decrease due to enrollment going down.

“I think it is about $8,200 per student is what state aid comes out to be with other factors put in there. If we don’t have those approximately 130 students in school for state aid, that could create a problem for next year when we do the budget. We will have to see how that plays out.”

After seven years of losses for state aid, Kearney Public Schools had seen a state aid increase over the previous two academic years.