November 2, 2022
Dear Manhattan Parents/Guardians and Community Members,
The Manhattan School District is considering recommending to the Board of Trustees a request for new technology levies for the elementary and high school districts. Current permanent technology levies were set in 2003 at $18,500 in the elementary district and $24,500 in the high school district. These current technology levies can ONLY be used to fund technology equipment and not software or cloud computing services that a new technology levy would allow. Enrollment in the elementary district has increased by more than 47% since 2003. Enrollment in the high school district has increased by 12%. Approximate costs for technology in the Manhattan School District per year is $158,000. The 2003 technology levies fund $43,000 of our annual hardware technology costs. The $115,000 difference is currently being funded by federal grant dollars that could be used to fund professional development for our staff, or other needed support services for students. New technology levy requests are not permanent. They will be limited to 10 years but will seek to make up some or all of the difference, depending on amounts requested.
The Manhattan School District is also considering recommending to the Board of Trustees a request for general fund operating levies in both districts. While our current enrollment is significantly higher than it was in 2003 when current technology levies were set, we have not seen increases in enrollment over the past three years. Next year’s budget is determined by this year’s enrollment, which is down 41 students from the 2021-2022 school year. Costs to operate a school district are increasing in every area. Since 2020, Manhattan Public Schools have relied heavily on federal and state COVID relief funds to balance our elementary and high school district budgets. All COVID relief funds must be spent by 9/30/2024, however, Manhattan Public Schools will have spent most funds by the end of this fiscal year. The District was able to balance the 2022-23 general fund operating budgets for the elementary and high school districts with the aforementioned grants, as well as with cuts and adjustments to positions and programs. Without the needed general fund operating levy requests, the district may not have the capacity to balance the budget and may be required to make additional cuts and/or reduction in force (RIF), which would result in significant program changes and these changes would not honor the wishes of our community and strategic plan goals. In summary, increases in enrollment or passage of levies increase the capacity of the District to operate the schools.
The District is committed to continued transparency and accountability. We will continue to inform all stakeholders via town hall meetings, Superintendent Advisory Council meetings, regular school board meetings, Facebook, email, website, and radio. We look forward to working alongside community partners as we consider the need to run levies for the operation of our schools with the intended outcome of providing an environment that promotes student success in education and in life.
Brian K. Ayers, Manhattan Public Schools