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Archive for Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Shawnee Mission, Wichita schools announce cuts

Districts join Lawrence in slashing budgets in anticipation of decreased state funding

April 24, 2002

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— School districts across Kansas are slashing jobs and programs as the state continues grappling with a projected $700 million budget shortfall that could mean reduced or stagnant education funding.

School officials for three of the state's largest districts Wichita, Shawnee Mission and Lawrence each discussed budget cuts during meetings Monday night.

Wichita school board members Monday got a first look at a ranked list of proposed budget cuts that would eliminate 178 jobs, including nearly 100 teaching positions.

In Wichita, the job cuts include assistant principals, elementary band and orchestra teachers, classroom teachers, social workers, librarians, nurses, counselors, electricians, painters, custodial and lunch period aides, clerks and paraeducators.

Wichita school officials say they hope to take care of the job cuts through attrition, if state lawmakers decide not to reduce state aid to school districts and maintain the same per-student state aid of $3,870.

The suggested cuts totaling about $8.1 million, or 5 percent of the district's budget were identified by committees of staff and community members.

Supt. Winston Brooks told the school board Monday that the district would have to cut $10 million in programs even if it gets the same amount of funding because of other rising costs such as health insurance premiums.

He also warned the district's enrollment could decline because of recent aircraft layoffs.

Other cuts include the purchase of textbooks, driver's education and privatized services.

If the Legislature decides to cut state aid, discussions would turn to layoffs and closing schools, school officials said.

"It ain't pretty," said board member Lynn Rogers.

Meanwhile, the suburban Kansas City school district of Shawnee Mission announced Monday that it already had started carrying out spending reductions the district staff recommended in January. The cuts include money for 10 school nursing jobs, the district's foreign-language center and almost $300,000 in library books and subscriptions.

School officials in Lawrence are anticipating up to $4.5 million in spending cuts and say fee increases could be needed in the 2002-03 school year to balance the budget.

The school board voted Monday not to renew the contracts of 65 nontenured educators. The decision had to be made before May or the district would be obliged to retain all certified staff not receiving notification.

However, there's a possibility that about 10 teachers could be rehired with funding from a federal grant.

If the 2002 Legislature adopts a budget in May or June that improves appropriations to school districts, money might be available to return others to the district's work force.

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