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Archive for Thursday, May 2, 1996

S PLANS ON HOLD

May 2, 1996

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If Kansas legislators do not restore the 35-mill school property tax levy this year, the Lawrence school district will lose $6.5 million.

That's a tremendous hit, representing a cut of about 15 percent of its total revenues.

"We could not manage without people losing jobs," said Supt. Al Azinger.

Class sizes also would increase significantly, he said.

The Legislature's last-minute consideration of funding for schools has changed the way Lawrence administrators work.

"It really puts a damper on our planning," Azinger said. "We're at a point in time when we normally would be doing some hiring for next year. We're going ahead and doing the process, but we will not be offering any new contracts for next year until we find out what the Legislature is really going to do.

"And if we are involved in competing for people with other states, that puts us at a clear disadvantage as we deal with hard-to-fill positions."

The property tax issue forced lawmakers into a seventh day of their wrapup session Wednesday.

If legislators only restore the 35-mill funding, without increasing state aid for each school child in Kansas, Azinger said, the district will be forced to make about $1 million in budget cuts next year -- to handle the effects of inflation, salary increases and growth.

Azinger said he doesn't want to enter the debate over property tax relief. But he said that if property tax relief was an important issue, it should have been aired long ago.

"There's all kinds of issues that, I'm sure, go into a situation like this," he said. "I'm sure there are a lot of factors that are needing to be balanced as exist in any legislative session.

"The point, I think, is that the state constitution says education is a function of the state and that it is the state's responsibility to adequately fund education. Not doing something about this at this point is irresponsible."

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