Archive for Friday, March 28, 2014

Basehor-Linwood Superintendent: potential state budget cuts could have “devastating impact”

USD 458 Superintendent David Howard

USD 458 Superintendent David Howard

March 28, 2014

Superintendent's blog: Call to Action

Currently, the Kansas Legislature is working on a school finance plan for next year with the difficult task of trying to meet the Supreme Court mandate on equalization and balancing the rest of the state budget.

Unfortunately, several plans that have emerged from both the Kansas House and Senate could have a devastating impact on our school district and the services we provide. The House plan would reduce our transportation funding for the district over $96,000. The two plans from the Senate not only reduce transportation aid, but also would cut virtual school funding in half. The cut in virtual school aid alone would reduce the Basehor-Linwood School District budget over $640,000!

Our Basehor-Linwood Virtual School operates quite differently than many of those across the state. We use our own curriculum and Basehor-Linwood teachers, as compared to a 'canned curriculum' and teachers from out of state. BLVS has helped hundreds of students earn a high school diploma, who otherwise had very little chance of graduating from a traditional brick and mortar building. We have many students who use our virtual school for credit recovery and early graduation, and have also helped hundreds of our own district students who needed the opportunity to retake a class. Without this type of opportunity, students might not have any other options to secure a high school diploma.

Having our budget reduced by nearly $750,000 will absolutely affect the services we provide for our students and teachers. I'm asking that you please take time to contact our legislators, and let them know how important public education is to you and to our Basehor-Linwood community.

Click here for a sample letter to email, or if you'd like to write your own letter, there are a few bullet points below to guide you. Please remember to be courteous in your conversation as a representative of the Basehor-Linwood school community and interested supporter.

Basehor-Linwood Virtual School is an alternative approach to traditional schooling, as brick and mortar schools are not for every learner.

BLVS is a resource for parents who homeschool for all grades kindergarten through 12th.

BLVS provides credit recovery options for graduation progress for all high school students.

BLVS is an alternative for students who are physically unable to attend traditional classes for medical reasons or because of health issues.

BLVS gives adult learners a connection to complete high school graduation requirements to earn their diploma.

BLVS presents opportunities for special circumstances for early high school graduation.

Our local legislators are:

Representative Dove - 785.296.7670 or willie.dove@house.ks.gov

Senator Holland - 785.296.7372 or tom.holland@senate.ks.gov

If you have time, additional legislators that need to hear from you are:

Senator Fitzgerald - 785.296.7357 or steve.fitzgerald@senate.ks.gov

Senator Masterson - 785.296.7388 or ty.masterson@senate.ks.gov

Representative Rhoades - 785.296.7682 or marc.rhoades@house.ks.gov

Thank you for your time and commitment to the Basehor-Linwood School District! As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss further.

Basehor-Linwood School District Superintendent David Howard is calling school district residents to contact their local law makers over legislation that would significantly reduce district transportation and virtual school funding.

Early next week, the state legislature will discuss school finance plans for next year in an effort to meet the Supreme Court mandate on equalization while balancing the rest of the state budget.

Kansas Senate Republicans on Wednesday unveiled two school finance plans that would respond to a recent Supreme Court ruling by adding money for poor school districts. But much of the money would come from cuts in other kinds of education funding.

One of the most concerning areas of cuts for Basehor-Linwood, according to Howard, is in virtual school funding. The proposed cut in virtual school aid alone would reduce the Basehor-Linwood School District budget by $640,000.

"Our Basehor-Linwood Virtual School operates quite differently than many of those across the state. We use our own curriculum and Basehor-Linwood teachers, as compared to a 'canned curriculum' and teachers from out of state. BLVS has helped hundreds of students earn a high school diploma, who otherwise had very little chance of graduating from a traditional brick and mortar building," Howard writes in his most recent blog.

The proposed cuts to transportation funding would reduce USD458's transportation fund by more than $96,000, according to Howard. The total amount of cuts to USD 458 would reach about $750,000, according to Howard.

"Unfortunately, several plans that have emerged from both the Kansas House and Senate could have a devastating impact our school district and the services we provide," Howard said.

Senate GOP leaders offering the bill argue that it would restore full funding of so-called “equalization aid” for capital outlay and local option budgets, a direct response to the Supreme Court's March 7 decision in a school finance lawsuit.

According to estimates circulated in a GOP caucus meeting, that would cost $119.7 million, a little less than the $129 million previously estimated.

But a large portion of that would come from reductions in other kinds of education funding. Those include:

• Cutting base per-pupil funding for virtual education by more than half.

• Eliminating extra money districts get for students who are not proficient at reading and math, but who do not qualify for free meals.

• Raising the threshhold for districts to qualify for “high density at-risk weighting” - money meant to address unique needs of urban districts with high poverty rates.

• And reducing transportation aid for all school districts.

At the same time, the Senate leadership bill would increase local districts' authority to levy “local option budgets,” raising the limit from 31 percent to 33 percent of the base funding they get from the state. But the bill would require that voters in a district to approve any LOB above 31 percent.

In order to make that available to districts next year, the bill needs to pass both chambers of the Legislature before April 4. That would give districts time to propose raising their LOBs and hold mail-ballot elections.

Howard's entire blog about how the proposed legislation may affect USD 458, click here. A copy is also provided to the left.

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