is alleged that Kansas schools are making high profile
budget cuts just to gain citizen support for increasing
tax revenue. Supposedly, schools could save lots of
money by just being more efficient. In other words,
Kansas schools are merely “crying wolf” when they could
readily trim some more fat from their budgets. Supposedly,
school administrators are conspiring to close down a
popular after-school activity here, an elective music
activity there, to stir up public sentiment.
you want to continue believing that: 1)don’t step inside
a Kansas school, 2)don’t talk to Kansas teachers or
ex-teachers, and 3)don’t read your local paper.
the last weeks I have spent part of each day reading
clips from newspapers across Kansas detailing the dramatic
cutbacks that are being made just at the present time.
School personnel cuts are being made in all regions
of Kansas. And they do not account for another possible
$172 million or more reduction for next school year.
80 and 87 percent of a school’s operating budget is
in personnel. Over 3000 K-12 faculty and staff lost
their jobs between the 2008-2009 and this year. Administrators
are looking at dismissing a similar number again under
the best possible scenario.
first teachers dismissed are mostly new untenured teachers,
sometimes our most innovative, hard-working, and enthusiastic
teachers. However, some schools (mostly small and rural)
are now cutting into their tenured ranks. Under financial
exigency, a school can—with due process—dismiss tenured
teachers. These consequences are not cosmetic nor engineered
to curry public sympathy. Cutting funding cuts people.
sizes are going up, often dramatically. Where a middle
school or high school had six science teachers, some
are cutting to five or four.
smaller rural schools, where a teacher retires, that
salary-line was lost to make up part of the deficit.
The rest of the teachers cover those classes. More Kansas
students will be taught by out-of-field teachers. Applications
for waivers will soar. Kansas students are being deprived
of art and music courses as those teachers are being
cut in some schools.
student teachers and alternate route teachers are finding
no job openings. Students at one teacher training university
complained that their career fair should have just hung
up a sign saying “no jobs.” This sends a new message
to classmates that teaching, once considered a fairly
secure vocation in times of recession, is no longer
a good option.
young teachers may join the unemployment line for a
short time, but the best will eventually find other
work, displacing other Kansans. After a few years away,
they will not be coming back to teaching. This emerging
“missing generation” of new teachers will have a lingering
effect in Kansas schools well beyond any upcoming recovery.
school consolidation study at the first of this decade,
as well as the recent Post Audit, estimated that some
money could be saved by consolidation. Both studies
noted that there would be construction costs to hub
the larger high schools. Smaller rural school boards
are already accelerating talks on consolidation, forced
by declining revenue, but without any money to merge
who reads their local paper knows these consequences
of the school revenue shortfall occurring in their neighboring
communities are real.
Legislature will have a better guess of the state financial
situation when the consensus estimate is released in
mid-April. But any final budget that cuts school funding
further can simply be named the Kansas School Consolidation