Archive for Monday, May 23, 2011

Statehouse Live: Kansas education officials say school cuts will hurt student performance

May 23, 2011, 9:58 a.m. Updated May 23, 2011, 2:53 p.m.


— While Gov. Sam Brownback and other Republicans praised the state budget, education officials say the $100 million in cuts to schools will jeopardize student performance.

“It is important for school leaders, parents, patrons and state officials to understand the impact of the downward spiral in education funding,” John Heim, executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards, said recently.

“There is no way to avoid the fact this budget will damage the programs that have helped more students reach higher levels of achievement and create the need for significant reductions in staff.”

Under the budget proposal approved by the Legislature this month and on Brownback’s desk, base state aid will be cut $232 per student, to a 10-year low of $3,780 per student. That is 5.8 percent lower than last year and 14 percent below 2008-09 when cutting started as the recession unfolded.

General funding per pupil, which includes additional funds for special education, bi-lingual, vocational programs and transportation, will be $6,474 per pupil, which is 11 percent less than four years ago.

Heim said school boards across the state will be forced to cut more personnel, close schools, raise fees and use emergency reserves. Since the 2008-09 school year, districts have cut 2,295 positions, about 3 percent of the total.

In addition, the budget will cut Kan-ed, the program that provides Internet connectivity and technology support for schools, colleges, libraries and hospitals, from $10 million per year to $6 million per year.

Brownback, a Republican, is expected to sign the budget into law. The measure was passed earlier this month with only Republican support, and the base state aid per pupil level is what Brownback had proposed at the state of the legislative session.

Supporters of the budget plan said it was the best that could be done with the state facing a projected $500 million revenue shortfall in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“We got right to work on balancing the state budget and in conjunction with the Kansas Legislature, took the more than $500 million deficit and turned it into a $50 million ending balance that prioritizes the core functions of government,” Brownback said after the budget was approved.

The Lawrence school district is looking at cuts of $3 million in the coming school year, compared with $4.6 million this year, and $3 million in the previous year.

Planned cuts in Lawrence include closing Wakarusa Valley School, eliminating two teaching positions, and using contingency funds.


George Lippencott 2 years, 11 months ago

Is there any rational person that believes that wholesale cuts to education are good?? This ranting sounds like demagoguery. The only other solution to our budget dilemma is to raise taxes. Where is the proposal to do that? Somebody wants it both ways. It seems they are saying that they abhor the cuts but will not take political risks by identifying who they would tax to avoid them??


Paul R Getto 2 years, 11 months ago

TG: Thanks. I'm also fascinated by the thought 'money doesn't matter' when discussing education. One cannot find another large entity (or small) that alleges the same. If money 'didn't matter' the few rich districts in the nation would be scrambling to give much of it away to their poorer neighbors. Don't see much of that happening, do ya?


Paul R Getto 2 years, 11 months ago

The real drill is to cut the funds low enough the RRR (radical religious right) can say the schools are not functional. Then they can give what little is left to the private religious academies and the home-schooling mommas. This has been the intent for decades. The Koch's inherited billions from Poppa, who made his money serving the Commies. They were good stewards of these resources and, once the USSR fell, the RRR needed an enemy. They new one.....public schools. The John Birch Society and others are behind some of this. Don't blame the Kochs. They are libertarians who, no doubt, laugh behind closed doors at the religious nuts. They ARE willing to use them for their own ends; note the Tea-Party support. It's gonna be a long summer and the next legislative session will be 'interesting' to say the least. Not a bad conversation here; just remember who is carrying water for whom, on both sides.


countrygal07 2 years, 11 months ago

Cutting Education is a bunch of crap. The pasdt several years the schools have hade to make cuts after cuts in their budgets. Why are we able to help other countries but not able to help our own? Where is all the money from Lottery we was promised to help our school district?


SouthSide 2 years, 11 months ago

Education officials = socialists who hate our freedoms.


gkerr 2 years, 11 months ago

We simply cannot keep increasing spending for health care, education, State employee salaries, highways, law enforcement, medical care, retirement benefits, etc..

Everyone in these public sectors is looking for, arguing for, asking for, whining for, begging for tax payers money. More money from taxes in light of this prolonged economic downturn, this high debt from underwater mortgages, excess spending over income at every level of government, most households, and many businesses small and large, will not be forthcoming. This is not an issue isolated to Kansas alone, but every state in the Union is in the same boat, and the vast majority of nations in the world are in the same boat.

Simply put governments everywhere have overreached, overspent, overtaxed, and in the process have dried up the capital available to the small businesses that are the engines that create the capital for the public sector and the private sector both.

The love of money is the root of all evil, yet money is the necessary evil needed to fund government and sustain families livelihoods and businesses. Money for the forseeable future is in short supply and educators in the public sector will not get as much as they want or think they need. Period. Gkerr


GardenMomma 2 years, 11 months ago

It really seems that the governor is doing his very best to gut public education so we will beg for the vouchers for private schools. So far he has:

  1. Cut per pupil funding to levels from nearly 20 years ago.
  2. Eliminated the Kansas Arts Commission which helps schools develop lessons for grades K-12, among the other grants given to Kansas artists. The KAC seems to especially help out those Western Kansas counties with arts funding.
  3. Eliminated funding for Kan-Ed which provides broadband Internet service to schools, hospitals, and libraries. Service which costs the taxpayer next to nothing but which helps students prepare for state assessments and other testing as well as a resource for teachers.
  4. Suggested eliminating the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents and replacing them with a Secretary of Education - to be appointed by the governor.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 11 months ago

It's an interesting logic that schools (and any government program other than the military) can never benefit from additional financing. But for some reason, the same logic doesn't apply to the private sector businesses. Their taxes must be eliminated to zero (essentially the libertarian/Koch brothers most cherished belief) because any level of taxation destroys their ability to operate effectively.


DeaconBlue 2 years, 11 months ago

There just isn't enough Makers to pay for all the Takers kids.

Am I to understand from this Taker group, that all it takes is the Makers money to teach their kids?


sciencegeek 2 years, 11 months ago

Since there are hardly any Kansas teachers who are part of that particular union, how can it possibly be the root of the problem in Kansas?


Kontum1972 2 years, 11 months ago

i am still waiting for the Flint Hills go into effect....


rockchalk1977 2 years, 11 months ago

If there was a positive correlation between tax dollars spent and student performance, Washington DC schools would be the envy of the nation. Sadly that's not the case. The teacher's union is the root of the problem.


Dave Trabert 2 years, 11 months ago

How is reporting facts missing from this article a distortion? The distortion is in this article.


Dave Trabert 2 years, 11 months ago

This article fails to mention that total state spending on K-12 will increase by more than $100 million next year. Mandatory spending increases on school employee retirement benefits, special education and school bond payments prompted a reduction in the starting point of the funding formula (base state aid) but legislators also passed a law allowing districts to make up the difference in base state aid. Districts are allowed to transfer carryover cash balances from a variety of funds for operational purposes – and all but one district started this year with enough money in those funds to do so. Most, in fact, had more than $1,000 per-pupil in those funds. Districts have the ability to avoid the layoffs mentioned in this article, so why did the author and those interviewed fail to mention it? For example, SB 111 allows USD 497 to transfer $18.2 million in carryover cash for current operations. KSDE does not post carryover cash balances for every fund and district but it is available at

This headline of the article says student performance will be impacted but offers nothing other than one person's opinion. The facts tell a completely different story. KSDE says total K-12 funding increased by $2.5 billion between 1998 and 2009 but the U.S. Dept. of Education says the percentage of students who read proficiently is unchanged - and at an unacceptably low level (35% for 4th grade, 33% for 8th grade). See full results at

The Kansas education industry wants us to believe that spending drives achievement but the facts say otherwise. We've tried 'just spend more' it's time to try other proven options like school choice.


notanota 2 years, 11 months ago

No, the "best you can do" with that budget shortfall is raise tax revenue to pay for core government services instead of passing the debt to the next generation in a way it's much more difficult to repay.


autie 2 years, 11 months ago

Ey thunked Ralph said it alls cause we don't need no high flootin educatains cuse we is Kansas and don't need nobuddy tell us what wee cain't do no more. If's theys more Jesus in the curricklum instead of thinkin we d beed better off anymore and people that gets to thinkin two much jusst cause truble an cain't vote write no how


handley 2 years, 11 months ago

When other industrial nations are expanding their education by leaps and bounds we are putting ours in the trash can.


Ralph Reed 2 years, 11 months ago

From the article: " 'We got right to work on balancing the state budget and in conjunction with the Kansas Legislature, took the more than $500 million deficit and turned it into a $50 million ending balance that prioritizes the core functions of government,' Brownback said after the budget was approved."

Brownstripe's goal is to keep people uneducated and uninformed so they won't be able to cast an informed vote.

Heard in the guv'ner's office. Brownback: Hey Kris, we killed education this year. Who do we want to destroy next year?

KKKobach: How 'bout them pesky lib'rals down river in Lawrence, Sam? Let's start by keeping their gas prices artificially high, 18 to 20 cents more than the rest of the state, and make 'em go broke.


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