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Archive for Monday, January 24, 2011

Statehouse Live: Brownback’s budget cuts raise concerns about special education funding

Mike Mathes, who is superintendent of the Seaman school district in Shawnee County, and president-elect of the Kansas School Superintendents Association, talks Monday about concerns he has with Gov. Sam Brownback's proposed budget and the effect it will have on special education funding. Mathes' comments came after he testified to the House Appropriations Committee which is going over Brownback's budget recommendation.

January 24, 2011

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— Not only would Gov. Sam Brownback's proposed budget cut school funding, it could result in a federal penalty of $70 million in special education funding, officials said Monday.

The disclosure came as legislators started analyzing the details of Brownback's proposed budget cuts for the current fiscal year that are contained in House Bill 2014 before the House Appropriations Committee.

Brownback's budget recommendation would cut school funding in the current school year by $132 million, which would reduce base state aid per student from $4,012 to $3,937, or $75 per pupil.

It would also cut special education funding by $16.7 million.

Such a cut would put state funding below what is needed to get its full share of federal dollars. The result could mean a loss of $70 million in federal funds, officials said.

"By not spending $16.7 million this year, we could be in the hole $70 million over the next two years," said Mike Mathes, who is president-elect of the Kansas School Superintendents Association and superintendent of the Seaman school district in Shawnee County.

Mathes said that reduction in federal funds would mean that school districts would have to use their general fund dollars to make up for the shortfall in special education.

Asked if a looming federal penalty was a concern, Brownback's policy director Landon Fulmer said it was but that the governor had to make tough decisions to balance the budget.

Fulmer said if the $16.7 million is restored in the current fiscal year budget, then "you end up in the red" in the next fiscal year.

"We are trying to make do with the best decisions that we can going forward," he said.

Conservative Republicans on the Appropriations Committee asked Mathes if schools could use reserve funds to cover any federal penalty.

Mathes said some of those funds could be used but that most reserve funds are legally dedicated to specific purposes, such as paying off bonds, or held back for emergencies, such as building repairs, or to make payroll when the state delays payments to schools.

The committee is expected to work on the bill Tuesday.

Comments

George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

notanota (anonymous) replies

I appreciate your humanistic focus. In your world I suppose we would all live in little communes and share everything - the little we produced.

In my world the wife and I have responsibilities to things other than the schools. We have the agonizing need to prioritize. You wrap the mantle of goodness about you and make it harder for the rest of us. Is that the civil thing to do?

By the by, wife has 20 plus years of Special Education experience as a teacher and administrator. I am not ignorant of the topic.

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pinballqueen 3 years, 2 months ago

Have we forgotten that all gifted and excelled learner programs are classified as Special Education? Special Education encompasses all types of learners who need extra help/special services.....or should we let them suffer too? Oh sure, bored and bright, that's how they end up in the penal system.

And how can any cuts in education help?

And for Smarty Pants who thinks a nursing home is the answer....go visit one. Really, even the best ones, say at dinner time...or after dinner time when the overworked staff is trying to meet everyone's needs at the same time....or will you agree to an increase in funding for nursing homes? We can always go back and revisit Willowbrook.

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Floyd Craig 3 years, 2 months ago

cut state imployees? why not cut the ones who set on thier butts in topeka who makes money even when they arent working I workd for the state and didnt get a rasie for 3 years and they want to take it away from the ones who keep the sate agencys short of help well thats wrong

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William Weissbeck 3 years, 2 months ago

For these wacko creationist Christians, it's amazing to me how in their hearts they really believe in some corrupted view of Darwinian evolution - survival of the fittest. Let's just have a class based/wealth based education system, where those who can afford it, get the best; the majority get some basic "Little House of the Prairie" version, and the most needy end up on the streets of a Kansas version of Bombay.

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William Weissbeck 3 years, 2 months ago

For these wacko creationist Christians, it's amazing to me how in their hearts they really believe in some corrupted view of Darwinian evolution - survival of the fittest. Let's just have a class based/wealth based education system, where those who can afford it, get the best; the majority get some basic "Little House of the Prairie" version, and the most needy end up on the streets of a Kansas version of Bombay.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 2 months ago

bunnyhawk (anonymous) says… I challenge our new governor to help us all understand how he can reconcile his Christian protestations with his plans to balance the Kansas State budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens -- the medically fragile, the elderly, school children, and the poor. I cannot help but wonder if his Bible is missing............. BH, You need to read The Family by Jeff Sharleet, which explains the concept of Muscular Jesus: Muscular Jesus is the union buster, businessman they worship. This Jesus is, apparently, a 'conservative christian.' Their doctrine is the bible is irrelevant and power over others is all that counts. "It’s no coincidence that undermining the independence and power of the judiciary is a standard tactic in fascist grabs for power. [C]ompassionate conservatism, as Colson conceives it and Brownback implements it, is strikingly similar to plain old authoritarian conservatism. In place of liberation, it offers as an ideal what Colson calls “biblical obedience” and what Brownback terms “submission.” The concept is derived from Romans 13, the scripture by which Brownback and Colson understand their power as God-given: “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” [...] Brownback doesn’t demand that everyone believe in his God -- only that they bow down before Him. What’s the difference between what Sam Brownback wants and what Muslim extremists want? Nothing. Absent any gods that actually come down to earth and make themselves known, the only bowing that can be done is before a god’s self-proclaimed representative — like Sam Brownback. In the end, that’s what all theocracies become: a means for self-righteous humans to draw more power and authority to themselves, allowing them to dominate and control all others. ... and make the nation worthy of their holy leadership. " http://www.amazon.com/Family-Secret-Fundamentalism-Heart-American/dp/0060560053/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295994472&sr=1-1

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Chocoholic 3 years, 2 months ago

Cutting wasteful spending is good.

Having more money to spend doesn't always mean it's spent in the most efficient or effective way.

However, with education in KS, the cuts are beyond just cutting the fat. It's like hitting a plateau in weight loss, and deciding the best way to continue losing is to cut off a leg--or your head.

And darn. New Jersey beat us to Mark Zuckerberg.

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Kontum1972 3 years, 2 months ago

i didnt vote for him.....i voted for PEE Wee Herman

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Kontum1972 3 years, 2 months ago

any of u big time kansas lottery winners want to donate....we know your out there,,,just think of the big tax break u will be able to write off....and the people u will help....

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bunnyhawk 3 years, 2 months ago

I challenge our new governor to help us all understand how he can reconcile his Christian protestations with his plans to balance the Kansas State budget on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens -- the medically fragile, the elderly, school children, and the poor. I cannot help but wonder if his Bible is missing what I have always been told is Jesus' most important teaching: The Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you have them them do unto you." But then, Mr. Brownback and his family have more than adequate income and excellence health insurance--so his draconian plans won't affect them at all. These are sad times for all Kansans. We will all have the suffering of our least fortunate citizens on our consciences for a long time to come.

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Agnostick 3 years, 2 months ago

Sam I Am & The Boner believe everyone should have the right to be born; then you take my advice, pull down your pants, and slide on the ice.

Dopamine, The Boner, and the Short Bus live unprecedented!

Ghworg bless us all!

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kugrad 3 years, 2 months ago

This news shows that there is an issue of competence in the office of the budget director and the office of the governor. They don't even understand our state laws. This had to be brought to their attention. You can't both provide an adequate public education and make further cuts to the already financially stressed public school system. There are issues that need to be taken above the political fray. Unfortunately, those who continue to invoke the names of the Koch brothers and the political anti-public-education group they fund here in Kansas are not crazy conspiracy theorists. The current budget director worked for them prior to taking the job. These recommendations come straight from a Koch funded special interest lobby . This is an example of government at its worst. We have a governor who publically declares improving reading as measured by the 4th grade state test as one of his four major goals, yet he cuts funding to education and plans privately with pro-voucher groups and anti-public education forces. Despite many polls showing Kansans support public education and are willing to pay for it, our government aligns with the anti-tax crowd led by businesses and not by ordinary citizens. They no longer care what the people have to say about the issue, their minds are made up.

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Alfred_W 3 years, 2 months ago

Don't forget that gifted programs also fall under special education, with IEP required for each high achieving/ability student. And since those kids are already making the needed scores for AYP, guess where the cuts will be. We will still keep up with NCLB, but will also be dragging our best and brightest back toward the average. That means one of the attributes that attracts skilled and white collar jobs - an excellent education system (as measured by standardized test scores, number of nat'l merit scholars, etc) - will suffer.

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

The $16M is $10 per taxpayer. Everybody send there $10 to the gov and we will not have to cut special ed. Surely everybody will send it in for such a cherished cause?

I might observe that Kansas spends the vast majority of the budget on schools and Medicaid. Should we cut K-12? How about KU? Maybe the disabled? CHIPS?

maybe $20 would be better?

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WilburM 3 years, 2 months ago

Beyond all the philosophizing, it's simply stupid to cut $16M when the ultimate costs will be $70M. This is nuts. And that program will be there next year. Are we truly going to cut off our collective noses to spite our face?

Ideology is one thing, making fiscal sense is another.

BB is simply digging the hole deeper here. Stop!

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

left the e out. I just have to edit better

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Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 2 months ago

Is this post real? And if so, does the author have alternatives? Institutionalization? Euthanizing? What?

In our country, EVERY child is entitled to a public education. Every child. Not just the ones born here, not just the ones who are "like" everyone else, not just the ones who can afford it.

Every child.

smarty_pants (anonymous) says… I knew of a severely and proufoundly handicapped who "attended" school at Hillcrest. This child who was strapped in a specially designed wheelchair appeared to be unable to move or communicate at all. However, had his own private bus plus two or three paraprofessionals attending to him at all times in addition to the special education "teacher." I used to wonder what the point was of him attending school. Honestly, I believed it was mostly to give his parents a break. Can we afford to keep doing this?

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George Lippencott 3 years, 2 months ago

OK everybody wants more money for special ed. Anybody think about re-examining the program to assess ROI? When 94-142 was going through the Congress much attention was paid to how the program would save money in the long run by helping students complete school and become productive.

I have heard recent stories about the evolution of the program that suggest that we have strayed to the notion that we should improve the quality of life for grossly handicapped children as the new goal. That may be moral but taking every increasing sums from the productive portion of our economy is not moral.

Has our hearts out paced our heads?

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Mary Darst 3 years, 2 months ago

So much for federal mandates. Maybe, Brownback , should teach a couple years to fully understand what effects a budget cut will have. Maybe he should be responsible for No Child Left Behind. Those special ed groups are being tested too.

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gudpoynt 3 years, 2 months ago

"Fulmer said [a looming federal penalty was a concern] but that the governor had to make tough decisions to balance the budget."

But none of those decisions had to do with raising taxes. At all. For anyone. Ever. We are Republicans.

"Fulmer said if the $16.7 million is restored in the current fiscal year budget, then 'you end up in the red' in the next fiscal year."

Unless of course, we were to raise taxes. But we won't do that. At all. For anyone. Ever. We are Republicans.

"We are trying to make do with the best decisions that we can going forward"

But that will not involve raising taxes. At all. For anyone. Ever. We are Republicans.

Hey Republicans, would you please stop playing chicken with public education funding? Would you please not poo a brick at the mention of tax increases, and at least put them on the table as on option to be considered? Would you please stop placing tax incentives for private industry higher on the priority list than public education?

In other words, would you stop being Republicans for long enough to start acting like problem solvers? (HINT: Your re-election is not the problem that needs to be solved).

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inquire 3 years, 2 months ago

Pffft. Is that ALL he can do? Seriously, let's just close ALL the schools for one calendar year. We save all that money but even better, we could just send all those kids to work. Yes, unskilled jobs are still in demand. So, not only do we save lots and lots of money, but we'll actually be making more money on taxes from the kids! As an added bonus, we'll be able to show the next generation of Kansans what they have to look forward to for the rest of their lives! It's a true, real to life learning scenario. Thanks Sam for the inspiration!

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idea 3 years, 2 months ago

This shortfall of $16.7 million would amount to about $5.93 per person for the entire year. To put that in a “Feed the Children” figure, less that 2 cents per day. And yet we won’t raise taxes because of a stubborn partisan idea. How many people in this state would be willing to chip in an extra $6/year to make sure that a very needy group of people doesn’t go without? I’d be willing to chip in a lot more than that to make sure that those who really need help get it. Are we so selfish and unwilling to sacrifice that $6/year is too much? Even now, in the worst recession since the Great Depression, we can afford $6/year. This makes me feel ill, giving up $70 million in aid to the needy because we can’t cough up pocket change. Now our federal tax dollars, that WE pay are going to go to another state, and we will look like the most selfish and self-centered fools, because we refuse to raise taxes by a pittance. And make no mistake, it won’t be Brownback who refuses to do this. When we go outside of our state people will say, “You guys really won’t fund education in your state?” All of us will look bad if we allow this to happen.

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Paul R Getto 3 years, 2 months ago

When I was a school principal some parents would say, "We don't need special education." I asked them if they intended to have another child sometime. When they said 'yes' I suggested that they may someday wish there were services available. We never know what surprises and challenges life may bring us. Most students with an IEP (individual education plan) are not too far off the 'norm' and just need some help to succeed. The stereotype that all of them are very hard to teach and have no future is just that, a stereotype.

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smarty_pants 3 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, but...school? Why not provide nursing home care?

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whatamess 3 years, 2 months ago

"Can we afford to keep doing this?" I respectfully opine that "yes, as long as we have a state & federal government that is more-and more right-leaning/pro-life at all costs, yes, we have no alternative but to keep doing this". Parents don't wish for a child to be born with such disabilities, and if like most parents, abhor the notion of pregnancy termination of their baby, yes, because unless you are ubber-wealthy, a working family will be devastated at the costs of care and support for the severely and profoundly handicapped.

If we value all human life, we must support and nurture (including financially) those who can not care for themselves. We, as a society, are only as moral and good as how we treat those who need community support the most.

For those who say "phhppttt...to 'it's for the kids'", no. Money into education is for OUR future when we can no longer care for ourselves or no longer have family to care for us.

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smarty_pants 3 years, 2 months ago

I knew of a severely and proufoundly handicapped who "attended" school at Hillcrest. This child who was strapped in a specially designed wheelchair appeared to be unable to move or communicate at all. However, had his own private bus plus two or three paraprofessionals attending to him at all times in addition to the special education "teacher." I used to wonder what the point was of him attending school. Honestly, I believed it was mostly to give his parents a break. Can we afford to keep doing this?

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usnsnp 3 years, 2 months ago

Here we go again, state will cause loss of money to school systems from the Federal Government for programs that are mandated. Thus school districts will have to find the money from some other place which means that either other programs are cut or property tax will rise. But then the Governor can say, see it did not spend this money it was the local school districts that raised taxes.

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