Wichita school board to consider $22.7M in cuts

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The Wichita School Board will meet for a special meeting Wednesday afternoon to tackle the budget.

Wichita schools are forced trim $22.7 million from the 2016-17 budget because of a decrease in state funding. The cuts are proposed in four different phases. 

PHASE 1 CUTS

Proposed Phase 1 cuts reduced the remaining amount to $11.5 million, according to minutes from the latest school board meeting. Those cuts include:

- Changes to transportation and energy use, like adjusting thermostats to district standards, removing mini refrigerators, microwaves and coffeemakers from classrooms

- A 10 percent reduction in non-personnel budgets

PHASE 2 CUTS

Phase 2 cuts would reduce the remaining amount to $7.9 million. The possible cuts include:

- Health plan design

- Restructuring curriculum and instruction

- Staff reductions at non-attendance centers, consolidation of Metro high schools, closing the Transition school program, outsourcing services at the Juvenile Detention Facility and outsourcing or closing the learning centers

PHASE 3 CUTS

During the May 9 school board meeting, Superintendent John Allison and Chief Financial Officer Jim Freeman presented proposed Phase 3 cuts to reduce the remaining amount to under $2.2 million. Those cuts would include:

- eSchool reorganization

- Reductions to addendum days

- Restriction of district travel involving non-grant funds

- Limiting teacher pullout for professional development in order to reduce substitute teacher expenses

- Reducing the number of Peer Consultants

- Reducing or eliminating the AVID program

- Adjusting temporary aide wages

PHASE 4 CUTS

Though leaders have addressed Phase 4 cuts, they are not a part of Wednesday afternoon’s agenda – nor are health reserve options. The Phase 4 plan would include altering the school year and school day to balance the budget, including the following options:

Option 1: School calendar changes agreed upon and negotiated with the teachers’ bargaining unit, or
Option 2: Reductions to reach the final $3 million in reductions:
a. Elementary and middle school librarians. Librarians would be replaced with Para educators.
b. Data leaders. Currently, 25 teachers serve as data leaders at secondary schools. These positions would be eliminated.
c. Outsourcing custodial. The district could save $1 million by outsourcing management, chemicals, and equipment. This concept would keep all current custodians as employees of the district.

Changing the length of the school day and school year could potentially save the district $3 million.

The district says if a staff member’s position is cut, they will be offered a vacant position when possible. 

ABOUT THE SPECIAL BOE MEETING

The Board of Education’s special budget meeting takes place at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at the School Service Center Training Room. The building is located at 3850 N. Hydraulic.

If people wish to speak before the board, they must contact the board’s office by 9 a.m. Wednesday. They can call the clerk at the board’s office at (316) 973-4553. A speaker may also register to speak at the location of the BOE meeting, but must do so at least 10 minutes before the meeting begins. Only 10 people are allowed to speak during these special BOE meetings. A speaker’s comments is limited to three minutes.