Topeka Kansas school districts might have to consider cutting budgets for the current year as state revenues slowly recover, education officials said Wednesday.
Officials estimate as much as $75 million is needed in the current budget to supplement increasing numbers of students, and more of those students need assistance because of the economy.
Kathy Cook, executive director of the group Kansas Families for Education, said districts will have to consider reducing more staff, programs or even closing schools.
“That’s the quickest way to save the most money if they don’t appropriate the supplemental aid and find something to fill the hole with the loss of stimulus dollars,” Cook said.
State revenues are improving in part because of a new 1 cent increase in the state sales tax. But the growth isn’t raising enough to keep pace with spending. New projections from economists and state researchers show a gap of as much as $500 million in the 2012 Kansas budget.
Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jay Emler, a Lindsborg Republican who’s serving on Republican Gov.-elect Sam Brownback’s transition team, said the committee hasn’t made any decisions about the budget.
But he said there’s no appetite for a tax increase after last year’s.
“I have a great deal of difficulty figuring out where we’re going to the get the money to replace the (federal) stimulus dollars,” Emler said. “What do I see? What I see is no money to replace stimulus dollars.”
According to statistics prepared by the Kansas Department of Education, school districts have some 816 fewer certified staff working this fall, including 653 fewer teachers.