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Education cuts could top $200,000 in USD 410

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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback took more than $38,000 away from Hillsboro schools Thursday. Superintendent Steve Noble told the board of education Monday that district losses could total more than $200,000.

With more proposed cuts looming in the legislature, state receipts falling $47 million short of projections in January, and the prospect of the state budget deficit growing larger than expected, Noble said the best course of action was to hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

“We’re forced to change some things when we’re in crisis mode,” Noble said, as he detailed steps the district could take to deal with additional cuts.

Noble’s proposed to move half of the equipment and supplies funds for vocational/technical education for at-risk programs to support salaries. Some operational expenses could be transferred to the capital outlay fund. Property taxes could be raised to offset a $69,000 portion of the loss.

While Noble’s proposal doesn’t touch full-time positions, some supplemental contracts for extra duties, such as coaching and club sponsorship, could be cut.

“We’ve identified a potential of $17,610, but I’m not willing to disclose those in public session yet, because it could involve specific people,” Noble said.

“The total then, without cutting any people, is $226,647,” he said.

Noble was clearly irritated as he chided the state for cutting funds from a budget based on state law, as directed by the Kansas Supreme Court.

“(Brownback) is asking them to re-do the law in February, when we’ve been operating on that law since last June to hire our people, put them under contract, plan for goods and services for our kids,” he said. “They put it in law, they just didn’t appropriate enough money to fund the law.”

Noble said legislators are working with budget numbers for education that misrepresent the amount of aid provided by the state by counting local property tax dollars.

“The numbers they’re getting in Topeka include now the 20 mills that everybody pays in property tax that used to be held here and used for local effort,” Noble said. “The state now takes that 20 mills and they’re counting it as state aid in their minds. That’s local property taxes. They just took it from us, we were already paying that, and now they’re counting that as their contribution.”

Business Manager Jerry Hinerman, who walked the board through a detailed analysis of the budgetary impact of the potential cuts, said it was difficult to know what scenarios would actually play out.

“There’s a lot we don’t know,” he said.

In other business:

  • The board passed a resolution supporting the current election process for school boards. The action was a response to a proposed bill that would move board elections to November, and force candidates to declare a political party. Noble said the apparent intended effect of additional provisions was to minimize the impact educators have in elections.
  • Elementary School Principal Evan Yoder and Title I teacher Ellynne Wiebe presented a computer-based supplemental reading instruction program the school started using two weeks ago with 47 low-achieving readers. The web-based program adapts to student needs as they use it, and alerts staff by email when they need more personal attention.
  • A bus purchase tabled at the January meeting was eliminated in an alternative long-term replacement plan.
  • The board met for 15 minutes in executive session to discuss personnel matters. No action was taken coming out of the session.

Last modified Feb. 11, 2015

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