Wichita Schools Review Community Budget Priorities

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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March 8, 2010

Wichita school board members are getting some help with tough financial decisions. Monday, the board heard which specific programs the community wants to keep safe from next year's budget cuts.

High school junior Nicholus Cox says he doesn't want to see the JROTC program get cut.

"To me, it's my family," said Cox. "They're my friends, they're my peers, they're the counselors that no one could give me except for them."

Cox spoke to the board about Wichita students' budget priorities Monday. He says athletics and college and career resources are at the top of their lists.

"We've realized that this is cutting opportunities in our future that we will probably never have after high school," said Cox. "The students should have a say in what goes on with their education."

The school board says it wants students to speak up about their priorities. Monday, the board reviewed results from community meetings last week. At the meetings, parents, students, and staff voiced what they value most in Wichita public schools.

"Now I have a piece of paper and something that I can look at and say, 'This is what the community told us,'" said BOE President Barbara Fuller.

The community ranked music, technology, gifted programs, and safety at the top of the list. These are just a few of the programs and services that appeared as 'most important' at all grade levels.

"There are some strands, some things that are very similar as we're going through this," said Fuller.

The community recommendations will go on to help the board begin to make some tough decisions as it starts the process of forming next year's budget.

"It is a beginning for our conversation," said Fuller.

At Monday's meeting, the board also reviewed the district's policies for reduction of force. Administrators say lay-offs are likely if the district has to cut $25 million from its unrestricted funds. Salaries make up the majority of the district's unrestricted budget.

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