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Archive for Thursday, November 13, 2008

Budget office: School funding could face cuts

Free State High School students get some homework done in the commons area at the end of the school day Thursday. From left are Eric Palmquist, sophomore, Nicole Olson and Patrick Patterson, seniors, and at far right is Beverly Liang, sophomore. Funding for public schools may be cut under a plan from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' budget office.

Free State High School students get some homework done in the commons area at the end of the school day Thursday. From left are Eric Palmquist, sophomore, Nicole Olson and Patrick Patterson, seniors, and at far right is Beverly Liang, sophomore. Funding for public schools may be cut under a plan from Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' budget office.

November 13, 2008

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Bad budgetary news

Kansas' state government budget picture has turned gloomier in recent days.

Here are some of the most recent developments:

Nov. 4 -- State budget experts decrease revenue projections, noting a sharp downturn in the economy. They say if nothing is done, officials could be looking at a nearly $1 billion deficit by the next fiscal year.

Nov. 5 -- Gov. Kathleen Sebelius orders 3 percent cut in state agencies, and higher education. She says deeper cuts will probably be needed in the future.

Nov. 12 -- Sebelius' budget office recommends $114.4 million cut to higher education. Transportation Secretary Deb Miller postpones work on $209 million worth of highway projects because of budget uncertainties.

Nov. 13 -- Officials confirm public schools would face budget cut under proposal by governor's budget office.

Funding to Kansas public schools would face a cut under a proposal made by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' budget office, officials said Thursday.

The current fiscal year budget would be cut $11 million, from $3.246 billion to $3.235 billion. And the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2009, would face another cut of approximately $1.5 million.

Those reductions may not seem like a lot relative to the overall school budget, but education advocates point out that under current state law, schools were supposed to get an increase in funding of approximately $150 million.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Wagnon, D-Topeka, said failure to provide that increase would have a negative effect on students.

He said recent increases in school funding have led to better academic achievement by many students. Now, more funding is needed, to raise up the level of other students, he said.

"That is my real fear. The resources needed to meet the increasingly difficult challenges are just simply not going to be there," Wagnon said.

A large portion of those proposed increases, which already are written into law, are linked to Kansas Supreme Court-ordered increases in funding for at-risk and special education students. The court decision followed a lawsuit by school districts that claimed the state failed to adequately fund education.

"If the Legislature were not to fund the school finance law, that would have implications then on the lawsuit," said Mark Tallman, spokesman for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

The proposal by Sebelius' budget office is not a final recommendation. Sebelius will propose a budget to the Legislature when the 2009 session starts in January.

But the downturn in the national economy has hit the state budget hard.

State budget experts say lawmakers could be facing a $1 billion shortfall in the next fiscal year.

Sebelius has said she wants to protect public school and social service funding, but together that makes up about three-fourths of the state budget.

Lawrence School Superintendent Randy Weseman said the district will adjust to whatever the Legislature decides. But he said a reduction in funding or flat funding would produce problems because costs are going up for employee health insurance and in other areas.

"We're in times where everybody is going to have to tighten up. We've done this before," he said. "I've been kind of waiting for the ax to fall. I just don't know how far down our neck it's going to go," he said.

Comments

salad 6 years, 1 month ago

"Instead of K-11, how about 1-12? Kindergarten is nothing more than state-paid childcare. Keep those kiddies at home another year. They won't miss a thing, educationally."False. By that logic, ALL public school is state-paid childcare. Clearly you've never had a kid in kindergarten or volenteered a day in a kindergarten class. It's amazing what those kids can do and how much their teachers pack in. Kindergarten is worth its weight in gold, and all day K is even better.

avoice 6 years, 1 month ago

Instead of K-11, how about 1-12? Kindergarten is nothing more than state-paid childcare. Keep those kiddies at home another year. They won't miss a thing, educationally.

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 1 month ago

Maybe our state Supreme Court should put on the matel of legislators once again. Remember in 2005 when our judicial branch exceeded its constitutional authority by forcing the state to increase public funding for education exactly $143 million? Since when could judges tell the legislature how much to tax and spend??The Supremes could just legislate once again from the bench and require the legislative branch to do the court's will. Screw the separation of powers.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

Our fees have never decreased from the last time funding was cut, even though a majority of the funding was restored a couple of years ago.

salad 6 years, 1 month ago

"K-12 should be changed to K-11. I'm sure the education curriculum can be achieved with one less year at a significant savings"You're on the right track, but we need to abandon the "one size fits all" and the "everyone needs to go to college" mentality. Only about 30% of students are cut out for college, for the other 70% what's offered for them??? In this country, nothing. Lots of kids hate school, don't need it, and would be perfectly happy for the rest of their lives to be finished at 16 with regular school, enter an apprenticeship program and work towards a skilled career.It works for Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden...etc. In this country we teach the dumb kids to much and smart kids not enough.Our schools are bloated, top-heavy, beauraucratic nightmares. Administrators are rewarded with fat paychecks and no oversight, teachers get the raw deal.

LogicMan 6 years, 1 month ago

"The bulk of the state budget is in K-12 education and social services."They must both be cut if the budget outlook is that bad. Cut capital spending first, and definitely start a hiring freeze.But if the actual revenues are OK, a late-year special disbursement to these groups for capital expenses would be reasonable.

napoleon969 6 years, 1 month ago

Windlass, wake up. Sebelius is a Democrat.

wysiwyg69 6 years, 1 month ago

cuts on education, but you will have your new athletic fields. o'boy.

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 1 month ago

"To be sure, schools that are not funded are pretty lousy environments to attempt to teach children." - WindlassUmm, they're getting $3.246 BILLION every single year. You, sir or madam, are the real problem.

juscin3 6 years, 1 month ago

I think they need to cut out the round-abouts all over town. That's where the money is goin.

IchabodWU 6 years, 1 month ago

Sebelius has to follow the law of providing a balanced budget to the Legislature. The state's revenues are down, so to meet the lower revenue level, she has to cut expenditures. The bulk of the state budget is in K-12 education and social services. Making cuts across the board in other state agencies will not get her anywhere close to balancing the budget. Former Gov. Graves had to deal with these kind of cuts/difficult funding decisions after 9-11.The Legislature provided another year of school financing with growth factored in. If she did not propose reducing the increase and holding the spending level close to the previous fiscal year, the Legislature would likely do it. Growth in any state programming will be closely scrutinized this next Session.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 1 month ago

First we refuse to live within our means... then we expect funding to continue to flow like nothing is wrong. Education is very important, but so is eating.

persevering_gal 6 years, 1 month ago

lol, laughing at Bowhunter & waka's last comments about switching K-12 to K-11 and then waka misspelling school. Maybe that extra year wouldn't hurt.

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