Archive for Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Basehor-Linwood surviving funding cuts for now

October 30, 2002

For some Kansas school districts, reducing programs and teaching positions began last year when the state Legislature reduced per pupil funding by $27.

Although the Basehor-Linwood School District wasn't among them last year and probably won't be this year, school officials said it's only a matter of time until losing teachers becomes a reality.

"We can get through this year but our concern always comes back to next year," said Cal Cormack, Basehor-Linwood School District superintendent.

"Our real concern is what happens next year."

On Thursday, Oct. 24, school officials from region one among them Basehor, Tonganoxie, De Soto and Piper met at Basehor-Linwood High School.

Various sessions took place, including a meeting on state education funding and possible future cutbacks.

"It was what are you doing in your district to anticipate what we expect another state cut," Cormack said.

This year the cut anticipated from state and education officials is expected to range anywhere from $50 to $100 per student.

Worst care scenario in Basehor-Linwood: a $100 per student reduction coupled with last year's cutback could cost the school district as much as $400,000.

And again, Basehor-Linwood could be considered one of the state's luckier districts because it's not yet reducing core programs or teaching positions.

"The bottom line is with what's happening we're all going back to the budget and freezing non-essential expenditures," Cormack said, citing that the district would put off new textbook purchases and end of the year fund transfers to help ease the funding loss.

Also discussed during the meeting and by state officials in recent weeks was whether school districts should be allowed to raise more revenue locally.

In recent weeks, both candidates for Kansas governor Republican Tim Shallenburger and Democrat Kathleen

Sebelius have discussed raising the 25 percent cap on Local Option Budgets.

The LOB rate is a percentage used from local taxes and some argue the maximum rate should be higher in light of an on going education funding crunch.

Basehor-Linwood is one of several school districts currently at the 25 percent cap, including Bonner Springs-Edwardsville and Johnson County schools, such as Blue Valley and Olathe.

However, a LOB cap increase might not be the funding cure-all it seems to be, Cormack said.

"(An LOB increase) could result in unequal education opportunities," he said.

Richer school districts would be able to produce more revenue than poorer ones if an LOB increase occurred, he said.

Under the Kansas constitution, each student must receive an equal education.

"It seems to me contrary to what we are supposed to do," Cormack said. "and it takes the state Legislature off the hook for what they are required to do."

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