Board joins fight for funds
The Basehor-Linwood School Board has decided to fight for more funding from the state.
At Monday night's regular meeting, the board approved, 4-2, with member Wynne Coleman absent, to join Schools for Fair Funding, a group that has been preparing to file a lawsuit against the state to increase educational funding. Board members Gary Johnson and Richard Zamora were opposed.
To be involved in the organization, the district must pay $2 per full-time equivalent student per year, and that cost will be increased if the issue does go to court.
Johnson said he was reluctant to support the district’s spending money on an uncertain cause.
“That’s $2 per student we’re spending, for something that might not even happen,” Johnson said.
Echoing Johnson’s concerns was member Doug Bittel, who also said he did not understand how the group thought it was going to acquire more money from a moneyless state.
“We can’t make them spend money they don’t have,” Bittel said. “The bottom line is we will be asking them to generate revenue if this wins in court. That means raising taxes on all of us.”
Even with his hesitations about how the process will work, Bittel said he was in favor of joining the group because of its mission to provide better opportunities for children in the state.
“With all that said, and with all the conflict I feel, I still think we should be part of this group,” he said.
Schools for Fair Funding also headed a previous lawsuit in 2005, which was successful in securing about $460 million in additional funding for Kansas schools to be spent over three years. However, the economic recession spurred the Legislature and Gov. Mark Parkinson to cut much of that money, sparking discussion of a new lawsuit.
Basehor-Linwood Superintendent David Howard told the board members Monday he understood their qualms with the idea, but he said it was obvious the state had not honored the commitment it made to supply this additional money.
“The funding was never put in place to support a three-year plan,” Howard said. “I know it’s a tough time, but really the only time additional money has been put into education is when school districts have brought a lawsuit against the state.”
USD 458 joins 37 other districts, including nearby Turner, Leavenworth and Bonner Springs.
Also on Monday night, the board:
• Heard a construction report from supervisor Chris Claflin. The Basehor Intermediate School is at the tiling and carpeting stage, Claflin said, with painting near completion. The school is on track to open after winter break this year. Dry weather has speeded construction on the middle school back up, and a lot of progress has been made lately, especially on the gymnasium, he said. The health and wellness center is the district’s newest project, which is still in the preliminary planning stages.
• Discussed the city’s idea to create a recreation commission. Howard said he would continue talking with city officials and with people in Linwood to see if this was a feasible idea.
• Approved, 6-0, an out-of-state trip to New York for the Basehor-Linwood High School Dazzlers dance team. Six girls have qualified to go on the trip, during which they will perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. The dance team has had members qualify for the trip seven out of the last eight years.
• Approved, 6-0, to use PCI Building Services for a six-month trial period at the new intermediate school.
• Approved, 6-0, the KASB long-term strategic planning proposal.
• Tabled, 6-0, approval of a construction manager at-risk for the health and wellness facility. The contract is still being negotiated.
• Approved, 6-0, to buy furniture for the new intermediate school from Virco in the amount of $172,994.46.
• Approved, 6-0, to add five new courses at Basehor-Linwood High School for the 2010-2011 school year, including two dual high school and college credit classes, advanced creative writing, a new literature course and a new physical education class.
• Approved, 6-0, the 2008-2009 audit report.
• Approved, 6-0, contracts and resignations.