Archive for Monday, December 22, 2008

Schools aim to defend funding

Advocate warns against budget cuts, hopes that state will uphold obligation

December 22, 2008


— If state elected leaders start cutting school budgets, they may find themselves back in court.

Alan Rupe, the attorney who led the school finance lawsuit that resulted in record dollars going to schools, said, “I can tell you for certain that if there is a reduction in the funding that the Legislature has agreed to, there will be a thorough review and a decision made” on whether to pursue litigation.

But, he said, at this point no decision has been made because school officials are “optimistic that the governor and the Legislature will do the right thing.”

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Legislature face a $140 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, and potentially $1 billion in the next fiscal year.

Since public school finance — about $3.3 billion annually — makes up more than half the state budget, some have said cuts to schools will be necessary to balance the state budget.

Sebelius has vowed that in the current fiscal year, she will recommend no cuts to schools, saying it would be too much of a hardship midway through the school year.

But for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, she said she will propose “adjustments” to schools.

“They (school districts) will have an opportunity before they enter budget negotiations, before they enter teacher contracts, to know what’s coming for the next fiscal year,” she said.

She has declined to elaborate, saying that her recommendations will be released Jan. 12 at the start of the 2009 legislative session.

But cutting schools is not like taking whacks at a state agency.

The Kansas Constitution requires a public school system, and the financing issue came to a head in 2005, after many years of litigation, when the state Supreme Court declared that lawmakers had unconstitutionally underfunded schools, especially low-income districts.

The decision led to a special legislative session in 2006 that produced a three-year, $466 million funding plan. Under current law, the state already is committed to $142 million in additional school funding for the next fiscal year.

At the time of those decisions, state revenues were increasing at such a healthy clip that lawmakers were able to increase school spending and cut taxes at the same time. But those times are history now.


Shardwurm 9 years, 5 months ago

You can't get blood from a turnip folks. Sue all you want but if the money isn't there it doesn't matter.I guess the question for everyone is what else we want to give up to get full funding for the schools. Roads? Emergency services? Illegal Alien in-state tuition? What?In any case, I think the solution would have to be a 10 percent pay raise for teachers across-the-board...whether they're performing or not.

KS 9 years, 5 months ago

The only solution for education is to throw more money into it. :) It's a shame that the folks that are supposed to be educating our children can't seem to learn themselves. The only winner out of this deal will be the attorneys. When will we ever learn?Shardwurm, you better get used to this idea of more. We have the great one coming into office in just a few weeks. Hang on to your wallets folks. If you think that Bush and the R's were wasting money, look out. The tax and spend D's are back.

deskboy04 9 years, 5 months ago

Does anyone know how much the Food Service Director makes in USD 497?

LogicMan 9 years, 5 months ago

"In short, more money for wars and highways and less for schools."You are comparing apples to oranges. Highways like those are built with a lot of Federal funds, where schools are almost all state and locally funded.The feds can (and are) printing money; we can't.If the K-12 school folk can't see that we are on the edge of the Great Depression 2 then they themselves need to go back to school. They need to be part of the solution, not the problem. Find ways to temporarily reduce your budgets like eliminating capital spending, hiring freezes, slightly larger class sizes, temporarily not offering non-core classes and before/after school programs, etc. Find at least 7%, and use positive PR to spread that news.Then when revenues recover in a couple of years (hopefully) K-12 will be looked upon favorably.But if K-12 continues to take a hostile approach to the people of Kansas, a change in the Constitution and strict oversight is warranted.

BigPrune 9 years, 5 months ago

You'd think with all the money they spend on education, they could syncronize the clocks so they don't change every month. You'd also think they could go with less expensive items inside the school. Why do they need flat screen televisions in the corridors that they hardly use? Then there is the pesky half day Wednesday for teacher collaboration that makes every parent inconvenienced, or the lack of parking for when you have to pick up your kids - you'd think the city would've required the schools to build larger parking lots, but I digress.Next year, I'm sending my kids to private school. They will be able to have a real Christmas program and be able to sing Christmas songs, and the public schools will still be screaming that they don't get enough and suck every dime they can get from the citizens. On a per student basis, the private school spends less per student but has higher test scores. What does that say?

person184 9 years, 5 months ago

Big Prune saysNext year, I'm sending my kids to private school_______Don't the let the door hit you on the way out!

oohmgrover 9 years, 5 months ago

BigPrune, would you rather teachers be unable to collaborate? They collaborate so that they can provide your students with the best possible education throughout their content areas. They aren't sitting around cackling about how they inconvenienced you. And as for the televisions, I'm not a budgeting expert, but when I was in high school, we would often have to spend whatever we hadn't spent in our budget by a certain date or we would lose it, so that could perhaps be the reasoning behind it, but I couldn't say conclusively either way.And private schools generally only cater to students from higher socioeconomic groups, which are usually the top of the gap, whereas the public schools include good quality ones like those in Lawrence as well as the lower socioeconomic schools which cannot get quality teachers because of job stress and lower pay. Of course private school scores are going to be higher - the kids in those schools are coming from homes where the parents could afford to get their children hooked on phonics and watching Sesame Street and reading books at an early age.And just so you know, public school choirs can sing all the Christmas songs they want constitutionally as long as the program doesn't have the feel of a mass.

deskboy04 9 years, 5 months ago

I think that the schools could get rid of some of their administrators and special programs.

jmadison 9 years, 5 months ago

School spending is sacrosanct. One must conclude that after the Lawrence School District chose to build two identical sports facilities for a cost of over $4 million. Why buy a sedan when the taxpayers will pay for a limousine. As one of the previous posters noted, if the money is in the budget, it must be spent without regard to the necessities of our current economic conditions.

BigPrune 9 years, 5 months ago

When I was in school the teachers didn't have to have "collaboration" half day every week. All this money spent by the taxpayers for education also needs to factor in daycare / babysitters that parents have to hire, or the amount of lost income parents have to forego so teachers have their collaboration time. Why is collaboration time so necessary now? Was it a concession because the administration didn't want to pay the teachers more money?

oohmgrover 9 years, 5 months ago

Well when you were in school, you didn't have NCLB and high-stakes testing to worry about. There is a lot of coordination and discussion that needs to happen so that teachers can now make sure that they will be helping the students make AYP so that we can, you know, have schools.And that is why there is a bus system in Lawrence.

supertrampofkansas 9 years, 5 months ago

"When I was in school the teachers didn't have to have “collaboration” half day...." - Pruney(imitating Grumpy Old Man:)"In my day, we didn't have collaboratation half days. We got candle lit late night figure-it-out-on-your-own days! That's the way it was, and we liked it! We loved it!". "In my day we didn't have no fancy smancy computers with access to the internet, if you wanted to talk to someone else about your class, you had to send a hand written message by the Pony Express! You would get your reply in about 2 weeks but you would also get your head crushed by horse hooves--'Look, I'm a human head pancake!'--that's the way it was and we liked it, we loved it! "

deskboy04 9 years, 5 months ago

If you'd look into the salaries of the people that stir paper over in the old dairy barn you'd be shocked.

BigPrune 9 years, 5 months ago

I am not a grumpy old man, I'm just asking questions. Look, when the school district has mandatory half day Wednesdays every week, commits to two football stadiums, a $2 Million tennis court, and their parking lots are too small for their facilities (shows you who has the REAL power over city government), I don't think it wise to start calling names when you don't have an answer, tramp. All I want are answers..

Shardwurm 9 years, 5 months ago

I've said this before -I'm all about giving GOOD teachers good raises and getting rid of bad teachers. I want parents and students (you know - the customers) to have input into their annual appraisals.The trouble is the union won't let that happen. Educators yell and scream that they can't retain teachers because the pay is so low yet the worst instructors continue - year after year after year - to remain employed.Once the teachers are willing to be paid based on performance and not what the union negotiates then I'd be ready to loosen the purse strings. Since that will never happen I will continue to fight against the notion that more money = better education. What teachers need to remember is those of us with children know what really goes on in the classroom...and let's just say we're not getting a full day's teaching for a full day's pay. How about this? How about you put cameras in the classroom and allow parents to log on and view the instruction online? Would you be so confident in your abilities that you would be open to access at any time? I doubt it."Won't even bring up the $14 million in athletic fields and what the priorities really are at 497."I won't touch this much either other than to say that from my observation participation in athletics is worth a lot more than a large percentage of the classroom instruction given.

KSManimal 9 years, 5 months ago

"On a per student basis, the private school spends less per student but has higher test scores. What does that say?"--BigPruneIt says that private schools can hand-pick their students. So, they don't have to spend money on free/reduced lunches; or special ed teachers, or social workers, or psychologists, or security guards, or detention supervisors, therapists, school nurses, buses, etc.,......You're making a grossly over-simplified comparison, and hoping others will draw the same invalid conclusion you have drawn. Do your homework, and try again.

Godot 9 years, 5 months ago

Obama has set the standard. He is sending his daughters to private school. 'nuff said.

Rick Oglesby 9 years, 5 months ago

The sad thing is most of the money never makes it to the classroom. The only way it does make it to the classroom, is if it is a new classroom. I have seen a lot of waste. If you have money still in the budget turn it back in, don't blow it. Pay off some bonds! As for private school everyone should have the option. I would rather pay a third for a voucher for a kid.

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