Superintendent updates board on budget issues
Though budget cuts have hurt the Basehor-Linwood School District, Superintendent David Howard says he remains optimistic.
At Monday’s USD 458 Board of Education meeting, Howard updated the board on the district’s stance with respect to statewide public education cuts. Basehor-Linwood’s base state aid per pupil has been reduced from $4,433 to $4,012 since the start of its 2009-2010 budget discussions, Howard said, and Gov. Mark Parkinson’s cuts have reduced the district’s funding by about $1 million.
Howard said the district recently dodged a bullet when Parkinson chose to not cut education further after learning the state was down $80 million in revenue during the month of February. He continues to be hopeful Basehor-Linwood would be able to continue on without cutting too much more from its budget, Howard said.
Part of Howard’s optimism springs from state revenue proposals led by Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood.
Morris and Vratil said Friday they supported a $300 million tax increase that would include increases to sales, cigarette and alcohol taxes and would eliminate some of the tax exemptions currently in place.
The proposal is one of the first attempting to eliminate cuts and bring in revenue to combat a $467 million projected shortfall during the next fiscal year.
Vratil also proposed Tuesday implementing a new soda tax of 1 cent per teaspoon of sugar that would raise the cost of an average can of soda by 10 cents. The tax could bring in an estimated $90 million.
Howard said he was happy to see legislators beginning to brainstorm ways to generate money instead of continuing to eliminate funding to state programs.
“They can’t continue to cut their way to get to that $400 million deficit,” Howard said.
Also on Monday night, the board:
• Saw a check presentation of $425 to the Basehor-Linwood Education Foundation from Sunflower Broadband of Lawrence.
• Presented Board of Education Policy GAOC concerning tobacco on school grounds for a second reading.
• Presented Board of Education Policy JBC concerning USD 458’s out of district student attendance for a second reading.
• Discussed student accident insurance. Howard said the district paid $12,000 annually for its student accident premiums, and it was looking at the possibility of raising its deductible and offering parents insurance options for their children. This would allow the district to eliminate the $12,000 cost. Students could be insured for as little as $22 per year, with the district covering accidental medical expenses after $3,500.
• Discussed replacing the high school’s softball and baseball scoreboards. The project cost would be about $19,000. A local family has approached the district about donating more than $4,000 for the scoreboard replacements. The item will be on the agenda at the April 12 meeting.
• Approved, 7-0, the high school’s driver’s education curriculum for 2010.
• Approved, 7-0, a bid from Virco in the amount of $321,555.12 for furniture at the new Basehor-Linwood Middle School. District staff and faculty have already moved about $400,000 in furniture from the Basehor Elementary Sixth Grade Center and the old middle school.