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Johnson County Voters Agree To More Local Dollars For Five School Districts

Voters in five Johnson County school districts have agreed to an increase in how much money can come from local property taxes.

Kansas schools have two major sources of money, state dollars and local property taxes. But the state limits how much districts can tax. Last year the Legislature raised the cap from 31 to 33 percent of a district's budget.

School officials were able to raise what's known as the "local option" last year on their own but had to ask voters to make the change permanent. Five districts – Blue Valley, Gardner-Edgerton, DeSoto, Olathe and Shawnee Mission – decided to do that in a mail-in election that wrapped up Tuesday.

All the districts passed the local option increases with at least 60 percent of the vote and closer to 80 percent of the vote in most jurisdictions:

  • Blue Valley – 18,581 yes (80.2 percent); 4,597 no (19.8 percent)
  • Gardner-Edgerton – 2,058 yes (60.1); 1,365 no (39.9)
  • DeSoto – 5,379 yes (80.9); 1,274 no (19.1)
  • Olathe – 17,943 yes (79.2); 7,213 no (20.8)
  • Shawnee Mission - 35,197 yes (83.0); 7,213 no (17.0)

Shawnee Mission voters also approved $223 million in capital improvements.
Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby says there were no hiccups in counting the nearly 100,000 ballots.

"Everything went really well. In fact, to some to degree, better than we thought I guess is the best way to say it," Newby says.

Newby says voter turnout, at about 30 percent, was a little lower than anticipated for a mail-in election. The results are unofficial until Feb. 2, when the Board of County Canvassers meets. Newby says there aren't enough provisional or challenged ballots to change the outcome of any of the races.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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