New School Budget

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After months of debating and cutting for Wichita schools, a $398 million budget is in place.

There is no tax increase with it, and the schools will have money to restore some teaching positions, which originally were cut.

Superintendent Winston Brooks says with the first day of school, there were some kindergarten classes with 35 or more students. And classrooms getting too large is something the schools want to avoid, despite the budget cuts.

Now more than 80 teaching positions can be restored throughout the district because of money saved in such areas as cutting the extended school day and trimming summer school. "This will allow us to put back some teachers and keep our class sizes more manageable," Brooks says.

On another matter, the school board authorized the superintendent to use up to $250,000 from what's called the contingency fund, to try to restore 10 school resource officers. Those are Wichita police officers, which are assigned to the middle schools.

The city dropped funding for those positions because of its own budget problems. But the schools want them back. 'I think we need to challenge the city to come up with these SRO's as fast as possible. I don't think we're being unrealistic," says Brooks.

Winston Brooks says he's been told by Police Chief Norm Williams, even if the city restores money for those officers, the schools couldn't get new officers until a new rookie class graduates next spring. That's something the school board isn't buying, though.

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