Monday, January 31, 2011
Wichita schools facing more cuts in its budget battle, forcing district leaders to look at the budget in ways they never have before.
Last year, the district cut $14 million from its budget. This year, the economy may have finally caught up with the classroom, forcing deep cuts that will have an affect on everyone district-wide.
"Our customers didn't go any place. We actually have more students than any point in time in the District since the 70's," said John Allison, Wichita Public Schools Superintendent.
Partially to blame for the deep cuts, are proposed changes sent from Topeka by Governor Sam Brownback.
"I really am fascinated by the fact that our Governor says he wants to create jobs, he wants to re-build the economy of the state, and yet, he's killing K-12 education. That doesn't play out in my mind," said Connie Dietz, Board of Education President.
Other district leaders say what also does not play out, is the thought of cutting from the base per-pupil. That could represent a mid-year cut of $5.2 million, and may force the district to dip into the contingency reserve fund.
Even worse, Allison says proposed cuts for next year could add up to $30.4 million.
If those cuts were to be made in the form of positions, the equivalent would be 600 jobs.
Allison says the next few years do not look much better.
"If you look at comments made legislatively, I think this could be a better budget year than what we could face in the next couple of years," said Allison.
"We can't come through this without dramatic, dramatic changes. We've been able to keep it away from the classroom and our kids. That's not going to happen this time," said Dietz.
Allison had three recommendations for the board Monday night. Those include reviewing the district's central office operations and transportation operations, as well as studying the bond issue with the possibility of making changes to it down the road.