The Kansas supreme court has ruled that funding for school districts is again unconstitutional. Legislature will reconvene in January to discuss a plan to meet constitutionality.
“We don’t know yet, it will mean increased funding we just don’t know how much or how it will be directed to be used,” Dr. Martin Stessman, Superintendent said.
Though there has not been a specific dollar amount given to the legislature as to what would be constitutional.
“If you got back to prior budget year what we have seen is relatively flat funding,” Stessman said, “And to be honest and fair we’ve declined in enrollment over the last couple of years mostly due to smaller kindergarten classes and larger exiting senior classes.”
With fewer kids in the district means fewer funding dollars from the state even with increased funding from the supreme court case ruling. It would mean that fewer new dollars added to the budget since funding is based off the number of students in the district.
“I think what’s appropriate is what the the court said in 09-10 which would of been around $4,400 and adjust it from there,” Dr. Stessman said, “Under the current bill pass for next year the amount will be $4,126 so they’re still $274 per person short of where they were gonna be seven years ago.”
With the funding increase, instead of parent funded programs like girls swim, middle school cross country and middle school cheer the board has approved those positions to be district funded.
“When cuts first started we cut a number of positions, not programs, positions, we had parent groups that wanted to replace and add positions rather than saying no,” Stessman said, “The board approved parent groups to fund those I thinks it’s unfair on the the programs and kids they’ve proved themselves to be viable programs so I believe it is the responsibility of the district to fund them.”
Increased funding could be beneficial to more than just the students, increased funding could be used to help provide a more competitive salary and health benefits to teachers.
“Salaries and benefits for employees, primarily teacher salaries, our principals and teachers salaries have fallen behind in the market a little bit,” Stessman said, “And the other thing that is just skyrocketing is health insurance costs we need to do something to get our hands around that.”