To the editor:

The Unified School District 453 Budget at a Glance for 2017-18, which can be viewed at www.usd453.org, shows where our tax dollars will be spent.

USD 453 has 581 full-time contracted employee positions. Average salaries are listed for 30 administrators, $85,242, total $2,557,260; 230 full-time teachers, $54,841, total $12,613,430; 74 other certified personnel, $54,304, total $4,018,496; and 248 classified personnel, $21,368, total $5,299,264.

The Oct. 19 Leavenworth Times reported that fall enrollment decreased by 41 students. The USD 453 website lists an increase of 370 students to 3,731 for this year. At $14,557 per pupil, up from $13,046 last year, that would be $54,312,157 total.

Of the 3,731 students, 2,277 are designated as low income students of which 1,917 receive free meals and 360 receive reduced-price meals. Forget the old saying, “There’s no free lunch.”  

Only four of each 10 students pay for their meals.

Nine expenditures by function totaling $52,960,018 are listed and as usual all were above the previous year’s budget. Instruction takes 46 percent or $23,861,677, an 11 percent increase. Transportation lists $1,730,222, an increase of 19 percent from the previous year.

Perhaps the latter extraordinary increase is because Kansas State Department of Education Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis ensured that all 286 school districts have been receiving funding for transportation in violation of state law. John Hanna’s AP report disclosed that 16 districts audited received $45 million more over five years than state law allowed. Easy to come makes easy to go.

Adding more dollars for school spending each year has not increased student performance locally or across the state. College-ready state assessment test scores for 10th graders designated as low income in our district in math remain around 10 percent and for not low income, around 34 percent. In English, low income students score around 14 percent and not low income around 40 percent.

Get yourself and taxpaying neighbors informed. After all, it is our money and our school district. Parents, it is your duty to pay attention to your children’s performance so you can help the schools help your children learn more, achieve better test scores and have a successful life.