Butler County Times Gazette
  • School funding bill may result in cuts

  • Augusta Superintendent John Black discussed the situation with board members last night
    • email print
  • The recent school funding plan approved by the Kansas House and Senate was meant to boost funding to those school districts with less, while eliminating tenure for teachers.
    The action resulted in reducing funding to some schools as a result of adjustments to a number of weighting factors in the formula, which is a complex series of calculations determining how much money districts receive.
    Rather than just adding money to the system, there were adjustments made to the funding formula that resulted in reductions for a number of districts. And some of those adjustments made negatively impacted districts beyond the amount of money they would have received as an increase.
    At Monday night’s USD 402 Board of Education meeting Superintendent John Black discussed the situation with board members.
    “The Department of Education has advised all school districts to not do anything - go slow at this point,” he said. “The governor hasn’t signed anything yet.”
    Black explained each step of the formula, saying, “I’d like to see more money in the General Fund, but $54,000 more in the classroom is good.  And I'm not disappointed in reducing the pressure on property taxes."
    Board member Bob McCalla said, “We were planning on $70,000, but received $54,000. It’s OK.”
    Black advised the district had been pro-active by placing money in the contingency fund, but spending from that fund will need to stop. He also told the board cuts will have to be made.
    Some of the effects of the bill include:
    • New facilities weighting will continue only for bonds issued prior to July 1, 2014.
    • Requires the Division of Legislative Post Audit to conduct a performance audit of virtual schools and programs.
    • Authorizes school districts to renew their capital outlay levy prior to expiration of current levy.
    • Requires State Department of Education to develop a budget summary of one page in length in addition to posting of the budget, Budge Profile and Budget-at-a Glance. School boards must have these publications available at all board meetings when school finance is discussed.
    • Creates a PreK-12 school finance study committee to make recommendations to the Legislature.
    • Removes teacher due process rights for teachers.
    Board members did not discuss the bill’s elimination of tenure for teachers.
    Black also shared some of the concerns of the Southwest Kansas Superintendents:
    • Future cuts in State revenue increase the potential for additional cuts in education funding.
    • Past and present cuts may not be restored.
    Page 2 of 2 - • Local districts may be forced to further increase property taxes and fees.
    • Kansas may become less competitive in recruitment of teachers which could affect quality of education available in its communities.
    Black, board members and contractors will determine what can be done internally to save funds in the upcoming project at Ewalt Elementary; focusing on fixing the problem of moisture around the building’s windows.
    “We’ll have to look at it and see where we can save. We want to begin around Memorial Day and be finished by the fall,” Black advised.
    The process will include removing all the tiles around the windows, pulling back insulation and re-sealing.
    Belinda Larsen can be reached at blarsen@butlercountytimesgazette.com.
      • calendar