The West Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative will recommend its member districts increase their funding to the co-op by 5 percent next year.

That increase will help slow a decline in carryover funds, West Central Co-op director Chris Hipp told the Hays USD 489 school board at its Monday night meeting.

The cooperative — which consists of host district USD 489, Ellis USD 388, La Crosse USD 395 and Victoria USD 432 — receives federal, state and local funds.

According to the information Hipp presented to the Hays school board Monday, the co-op expects to end fiscal year 2019 with total expenses of $7.5 million, while its estimated revenue will be around $7.3 million.

“The good news is our carryover estimate over the last two months has gone up because our total expenses, our estimates are going down,” Hipp said.

“That’s still not great news, because we’re still going to be down in carryover,” he said.

From 2013 to 2017, the co-op’s cash balance grew, from $734,139 to $1.9 million. In 2018, it dropped to $1.7 million.

This year the carryover is projected at $1.5 million.

Federal revenue stays fairly flat, Hipp said, and is estimated at $1.1 million for fiscal year 2019. State revenue is projected to total about $3.7 million. Local revenue totals $2.4 million.

The state revenue is based on the number of teachers and paraprofessionals in the co-op. Hipp said it’s not uncommon for districts to not accurately report the number of staff throughout the year, so a sudden change at the end of the year can change the state’s assessment to special education cooperatives.

“In the next couple of days when we get the final per-teacher entitlement, we have to live though a reduction in per-teacher, because people will add in. Last year it was over 100, so the drop in state aid this time last year was about $100 per (full-time equivalent), per teacher. So it hurts you pretty bad,” he said.

“All I can tell you is ours is accurate and it will always be accurate,” he said.

The West Central Co-op has about 72 certified full-time equivalency teachers and about 112 FTE paraeducators. Paras do not work a full instructional day, so the actual numbers are about 120 to 130 people, Hipp said.

Hipp said he would prefer to have enough in the cash balances to cover two months worth of expenses.

“The 5 percent increase in assessments will I think level us off in carryover,” Hipp said.

“At the end of next year, I anticipate we’ll probably be right around that one or two months of expenditures in carryover,” he said.

Superintendent John Thissen said the 5 percent increase is much smaller than what many other districts face in increases to their special education cooperatives.

“Let’s just say there’s none that’s been that small. Others have been well over 10 percent over the last five years,” Thissen said.

Hipp said of the nine cooperatives in this region, the average is a 12 percent increase over the last two years.