Funding challenges state

Education funding has been a hot topic of discussion at schools across the state, as well as in Topeka.

On Feb. 5, Governor Sam Brownback announced a General State Aid reduction of 1.5 percent. That cut is going to save the state $28 million. Like all other schools, Skyline’s budget isn’t going to be as big as was expected at the beginning of the year.

“All schools took a 1.5 percent cut,” superintendent Mike Sanders said. “For us that was a little bit over $28 thousand.”

The cuts are intended to help fill the state’s $344 million revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year.

“Right now, at the state level, they are having a terrible time with revenue,” Sanders said.

Sanders pointed to the deep income tax cuts, intended to keep money in taxpayer’s pockets, as the reason for the revenue shortfall. He said that Kansas revenue was like a three-legged stool. It came from sales tax, property tax and income tax, but the legislature and the Governor have been working toward eliminating the state income tax.

However, the Brownback administration says that school funding has continued to increase during his term in office.

“Even after the reduction (to the increase), school districts are still getting $177 million more this school year from state funds than last school year,” deputy Communications Director for the Governor Melika Willoughby said in an email to supporters.

Governor Brownback echoed Willoughby saying in a press release “The dramatic increase in state education funding that has occurred over the last four years is unsustainable.”

However, the state’s attempt to fill the revenue shortfall will affect students here at Skyline. Sanders said 15 support staff will either lose their job, or have their hours cut. The programs that will feel most of the impact include ESL, At-Risk, and Title services.

There are a couple other ways that high school students might feel the budget reductions. The Sawyer Virtual Academy is closing, and credit recovery won’t be available for students. Also, some elective classes won’t be available next year.
Sanders also expects another $53 thousand in cuts this year as the legislature continues to try to balance the state’s budget.

“I would stress to everybody no matter what they believe as far as political views is to make sure they contact their legislators,” Sanders said. “I think people need to touch base with myself, their local Board of Education members, and really find out how it impacts their district specifically. Look at all the information. It’s important to get both sides of the facts and specifically find out what’s going on in your local district.”

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