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Chautauqua County Community USD 286

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February Notes from the Superintendent

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MESSAGE FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT:

As most of you are probably aware, the State of Kansas currently has a serious, self-inflicted revenue problem.  Instead of fixing the issue, our elected leaders have decided to put the burden of this on the backs of Kansas schools, even after repeated campaign promises from the Governor that K-12 funding would not be cut.

Last week, the Governor used "allotments" to cut $44.5M from Education ($28.3M from K-12 and $16.2M from Higher Ed).  This is not a case of K-12 and Higher Ed fighting for funds, this is a case of us both losing funds, mid-year.

There is also a bill (SB 71), which will cut $39M of LOB State aide, again mid-year.  Even though cutting LOB aide flies in the face of the "Gannon" ruling and disproportionally hurts poorer districts.  In addition, Capital Outlay State Aide payments of $20M due in Feb will be delayed until June.  

Also, let's not forget that the State Highway Fund has had over $200M taken from it the past two years and that $40M was taken from KPERS just this November.  Again, this shouldn't be painted as a case of K-12 v KDOT or v KPERS, as we are all being cut to continue failed policies at the State level.  I cannot imagine that this is what Kansan's thought they were signing up for in November.

As far as what this means to USD 286, in terms of dollars lost:

Governor's Allotments:  $28,428- this year

SB 71:                           $43,912- this year

Governor Brownbacks "Block Grants" for 2015-16:  $121,415

And my fear is that we are headed down a dangerous path as Governor Brownback has directed the Legislature to re-write the school finance formula within the next 30-days.  Rural districts like Sedan rely heavily on weightings like: at-risk, vocational and transportation.

On a personal note, this is very disheartening to see Education in Kansas (a State that consistently ranks in the Top 10 Nationally in almost every measure of student success) being demonized like this.  Right now, we should be talking about the programs we are adding and the new resources we are providing to make our students successful.  I got in this business to give resources to students and teachers, not to take them away from them.  Last week our Governor said: "Education spending is unsustainable".  That is just nonsense, as spending on K-12 has been less than the rate of inflation since 2008.  Below is a very telling graph that illustrates just how little K-12 Education has been supported financially in Kansas during that period.  

I am confident that USD 286 will be able work through these cuts and continue to provide our students with a top-notch education.  Our BOE, Administration and Staff are more committed than ever to making USD 286 the best school system it can be and will make the any sacrifices and/or changes needed to accomplish this goal.  One of our districts greatest strengths is the support we receive from our community, I urge each of you contact your elected officials as soon as possible and share your concerns. 

Nathan Hinrichs

Superintendent of Schools, USD 286