Archive for Thursday, December 24, 2009

State education board member tells school districts not ‘to appear greedy and selfish’

December 24, 2009


— State Board of Education member Walt Chappell has written school districts, urging them not to sue the state over funding cuts to Kansas public schools.

“Clearly, this is not the time to appear greedy and selfish when most Kansas families, businesses and government agencies at all levels are suffering,” Chappell said in the e-mail, which was sent out last week.

Chappell’s e-mail has prompted an angry response from some school officials.

Santa Fe Trail School Board President Randy Boudeman said that many of Chappell’s statements in the e-mail are incorrect and that recent budget cuts implemented by the state are cheating Kansas school children.

“Without question they are paying the price for a problem they did not create. I truly figured our State Board would be in the lead to stop this. It’s disappointing to me that you are not,” Boudeman said.

Santa Fe Trail Superintendent Steve Pegram was more blunt.

“Mr. Chappell, unless you can propose a way to replace the over $800,000 of revenue the Santa Fe Trail School District has lost since January of 2009, I again respectfully ask you to mind your own business and begin advocating for the students of Kansas, instead of advocating for the Kansas Legislature!”

The issue of school finance promises to be an explosive one during the 2010 legislative session that starts Jan. 11.

The current state budget crisis has resulted in five rounds of budget cuts this year to many areas of state government including $241 million to schools.

Members of a coalition of more than 70 school districts voted last week on a resolution to ask the Kansas Supreme Court to reopen a school finance lawsuit filed in 1999. That lawsuit led to orders from the state Supreme Court in 2005 and 2006 that forced funding increases to public schools. The group is called Schools for Fair Funding.

In his e-mail, Chappell repeats an assertion he has made that school districts had nearly $700 million in fund balances at the start of the fiscal year to handle cash flow problems. Education officials have said approximately half of those funds must be spent for specific purposes, such as paying off bonds. And they have noted that in addition to handling budget cuts, school districts have had to deal with the state delaying several major school payments because of falling tax revenues.

Contacted by telephone Thursday, Chappell, a Democrat from Wichita, said he was not speaking for the 10-member State Board of Education.

He said he sent to e-mail to approximately 30 of the larger school districts that have joined Schools for Fair Funding.

He said he has received both positive and negative responses.

“There are quite a few of us on the State Board and in the Legislature who believe this is not the time to sue anybody,” he said.

Schools for Fair Funding, however, has said suing the state is the lesser of two evils.

“Turning to the courts for redress is less harmful to our kids than shorting them of their education,” said John Robb, an attorney who represents Schools for Fair Funding.


Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

What part of "multi-million dollar budget deficit," "plunge in revenues," and "Kansas unemployment fund completely depleted," do they not understand?

The State of Kansas is seriously close to default; without a Federal government bailout, default will happen.

Too bad these educators cannot see the obvious. It would be better to make across the board cuts than to get an IOU, or a pink slip, rather than a paycheck.

finance 8 years, 5 months ago

What a conveniently contrived and asinine posture. He speaks publicly, howls that he is not speaking for more than himself, and then signs his name as a member of the state board of education. What do you suppose the illiterati will assume? Most great societies have died from internal attacks. With friends like this, education (and society itself) needs no more enemies. Look at his self-constructed flag-waving website: he claims credentials that make him the savior of everything from school finance to global warming and evolution--a true renaissance man with very few verifiable credentials. What is his true agenda? State legislator? National congressperson? Pope of the church of self-adoration? Dethroning God Almighty Himself? None of these proposed titles seem grandiose enough for this prophet of doom and salvation. Disgusting, and highly self-serving...or unredeemably delusional.

GardenMomma 8 years, 5 months ago

How about changing the laws to allow for capital funds to be transferred to operating expenses when the quality of education is at risk?

I think teacher lay-offs, school closings, crowding classrooms, and basic operating supplies (i.e. paper and textbooks) qualify as a risk to quality education.

Parents, especially those that are financially strapped already, will have a harder time footing an even bigger chunk for their child's public education.

I have no problem paying tuition and textbook fees, or even field trip fees; but there is a limit to what I am able to afford.

kusp8 8 years, 5 months ago

I would offer my two cents into this situation but instead I'd be lambasted. So instead...kudos to Pegram for having the cahones (sp?) for speaking what he really thinks. It's refreshing to hear a little bit less pc talk nowadays.

Centerville 8 years, 5 months ago

Oh dear! Maybe Mr. Chappell will get another sternly worded reprimand from the bureaucrats!

finance 8 years, 5 months ago

Centerville: don't worry, Chappell probably will be unable to read any reprimand containing more than one-syllable words, so he'll never know he's been reprimanded unless it's read aloud to him. As I said above, totally self-serving--or if not--totally self-delusional. Unbelievable in 2009...

Godot 8 years, 5 months ago

Apparently "finance" is another one of our educators who failed basic math and logic.

finance 8 years, 5 months ago

Oh, great, Godot. Follow my posts at to determine just how much of a failure I am. Let me know if you understand any of it. On second thought, don't let me know. I don't care.

purplesage 8 years, 5 months ago

Take courage to buck the establishment. Every dollar spent on a ridiculous intra-governmental law suit is that much less for the purposed the money is raised via taxation.

Whether it is astro-turf or $2 million dollar football coaches while faculty positions are left vacant, folks in the education establishment don't get it. They want more money and do not seem to understand that those from who they receive it are also doing without.

tomatogrower 8 years, 5 months ago

Kansas has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country, which is suppose to attract business, but where's the business? They also need to take sports out of schools and let the cities run them. A lot of money goes towards something that only a small percentage of students participate in.

finance 8 years, 5 months ago

Let's go without toilet paper too! Now there's a good conservative Kansas taxpayer suggestion! Schools, toilet paper--who needs 'em? Giggle.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 4 months ago

"How about changing the laws to allow for capital funds to be transferred to operating expenses when the quality of education is at risk?" === Not a good idea, but it makes good talking points. Bond traders in New York and elsewhere might have some opinions about that. Diverting capital outlay funds to general operations would be a temporary and dangerous fix. The universities have been doing some of this for years, not moving money, just not having enough for routine maintenance and replacement for large items and building repairs. This particular SBOE member is full of ideas, many of them interesting on the surface, but not particularly useful. The key is the August primaries. If the 'let's cut all taxes all the time' crowd gets elected or reelected, things will get very interesting. Sadly, about 10% of the public decides who will make it through the primaries. We need more people paying attention and voting.

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