Blair Community Schools

Blair Community Schools will no longer receive state equalization aid.

The district was notified by the Nebraska Department of Education that it will lose $613,687 in state aid for the 2020-21 school year.

Only 10 years ago, the district received more than $5.7 million in state aid.

The district will get $419,754, which is an income tax rebate allocation that all school districts receive.

Supt. Randy Gilson said the district anticipated the loss and cited increased valuation and declining enrollment as the main factors for the loss.

“If enrollment had held strong, we would have kept that state aid,” Gilson said.

BCS' enrollment has dropped 174 students since 2018. Most surprising, Gilson said, has been the loss in the K-2 grade levels. Currently, only 133 kindergarteners are enrolled for the 2020-21 school year.

“This is difficult considering 205 students are enrolled in this year's 12th grade class and classes have averaged 167 over the past 30 years,” he said in an email to the Enterprise.

Overall K-2 enrollment has dropped from 487 in 2015 to 443 next school year.

Despite the loss, Gilson said the district will be in “good shape” in regard to the budget.

“BCS has fought hard to reduce spending and balance its budget,” he said.

In 2012, the district spent just over $22 million in its general fund. Last year, BCS spend $22.8 million, while this year it is expected to spend $22.4 million. Gilson said that is similar to the general fund spending eight years ago.

Gilson said the district does not plan to increase the tax rate, which has been at $1.05 for the general and special building fund.

“The district completed its second expenditure reduction plan last year to anticipate budget challenges such as this,” he said. “In fact, BCS is projecting it may be able to begin decreasing the general fund tax rate as early as next year. Of course, if property owners' assessed valuation has increased, their taxes could be higher unless the school lowers the levy. BCS is being considerate of this fact.”

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