LPS proposes $9 million cut, likely due to a decrease in state aid

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 9:20 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - LPS is expected to make another round of cuts this year; $9.4 million worth to be exact. Even though property valuations are increasing by 11%, LPS’s tax levy is only going down by 0.8%.

Officials said it’s likely due to a decrease in state aid.

LPS is proposing a $463 million budget this school year; a half a percent higher than last year.

Officials said the value of people in Lincoln’s property is hurting their funding.

Sub-finance committee chair Don Mayhew said, “It’s very frustrating when property valuations are through the roof and the Legislature responds by cutting our state aid.”

Associate superintendent Liz Standish presented the budget to the Lincoln Board of Education Tuesday night. She said the state aid formula looks at property taxes as the first funding stream and finds what the district can raise locally.

Then, the state makes up the difference.

Standish said, “We can raise half of what we need to raise to educate a student locally; going up to about 60% of what we can raise locally, but we still need that state component.”

Although the budget is a bit higher, LPS is still making cuts to pay for salary increases and benefits which have already been negotiated.

The plan is to cut some contracted services, equipment, and around 85 full-time jobs. These are positions that are open and won’t be filled.

“We are making cuts just to try and keep our budget relatively flat for the last couple of years,” Mayhew said.

Standish said state aid to LPS has dropped by $30 million since 2019. She said it may drop by another $10 to $20 million this year.

“That is why we’ve been making the reductions, holding the line; doing what we can to move cash flow from year to year so we can stabilize it,” Standish said.

She said this year’s budget is laying the groundwork for next year when the district adds two new schools and preparing for what will likely be another year of cuts.

LPS is hosting two public forums to discuss the budget. One will be in-person Wednesday at 5 p.m. and a virtual one is Thursday at noon.

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