Archive for Thursday, May 27, 2010

Schools compensate for tight budget

May 27, 2010

With the end of the Kansas Legislative Session, the Basehor-Linwood School district is summing up its losses.

Because of state public education funding cuts announced by Gov. Mark Parkinson, base state aid was cut from $4,433 per pupil to $4,012 per pupil during the 2009-2010 school year.

Basehor-Linwood Superintendent David Howard said the district had been affected to the tune of $1 million during the last two years, and had made several changes in an effort to offset the limited funding.

At various meetings in 2009 and 2010, the Basehor-Linwood Board of Education approved fee increases and cuts to educational services. The district will also not be refilling the positions of a few teachers and administrators who were retiring or resigning at the end of this school year.

“We’ve eliminated five teaching positions and one administrator, along with numerous other reductions in athletics, support staff and educational services,” Howard said.

Board members voted unanimously at the April 2009 meeting to raise the cost of agendas for Basehor-Linwood High School and Basehor-Linwood Middle School by $2, making the new costs $8 for high school students and $7 for middle school students.

Yearbooks for high school students were raised by $5, setting the cost at $50 per book.

Student lunches were also increased to $2.25 at the high school and middle school and $2.15 at the elementary schools, which was 15 cents more than the lunches previously cost. Adult lunches at all schools were raised 20 cents, making high school, middle school and elementary school adult lunches all $3.

The fee for driver’s education at the high school was raised from $185 to $275, and the building trades class was eliminated, which had been costing the district about $6,000 per pupil.

Board members also tacked on fees of $20 to the high school industrial arts class and $25 the Project Lead the Way courses to be paid by each student enrolled in the courses. Industrial arts previously cost $15, and Project Lead the Way did not have a fee for participation.

Also during 2009, the board approved a $200 annual transportation fee that applies just to students who ride the bus to and from school and live less than 2.5 miles from that school. This fee alone was expected to bring in $30,000 for the district.

Going paperless in some operations was another way to combat less funding, as the district made its newsletter and calendars available online only, and enrollment for the entire district will primarily be done online for the 2010-2011 school year.

In addition, the district had some money it carried over from the 2008-2009 school year — including a savings of about $22,000 from letting school out early — and student accident insurance was changed to save about $12,000 annually.

As of now, Basehor-Linwood should not see further fee increases or cuts, but the $1 million deficit still stings as administrators, faculty and staff work to provide the same services with less money.

Howard said this had been particularly difficult because the cost of many district necessities was still on the rise.

“Unfortunately our operating costs — insurance, food, electricity, gas — continue to rise despite the reduction in general fund,” Howard said.

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