Brownback balances budgets on the back of teachers
Teachers and kids bear the burden of Brownback cuts
Governor Sam Brownback cut $56,472,011 out of this year's state budget to balance the books. The bulk of the Governor's cuts were in education where he cut just over $50 million. Brownback said he made the cuts because House and Senate negotiators could not reach an agreement.
"It seems Governor Brownback's 'Roadmap for Education' is an unpaved path taking our students back to the 19th century," said KNEA President Blake West. "We are sorely disappointed the House negotiators refused to work with the Senate to finance the maintenance of effort for special education children. That refusal, and this Governor's lack of commitment to education, brought us to this point. Making public schools great for every child is not on this Governor's agenda."
The move could pull Kansas out of compliance with federal regulations regarding state aid to special education. That means Kansas will forfeit more than $100 million in federal funds that could be used in future budget years. Those funds won’t ever be replaced.
While there are many unanswered questions about how the cuts will be applied and what actual impact on base state aid per pupil and other education programs, the Department of Education said the cuts reduce the state aid by $75 per student — from $4,012 to $3,937. However, the per-student cut may be $22 because the governor’s plan also would offset some of the reductions by applying $35 million from a federal jobs grant to schools.
Advocates for all state programs will regroup Monday morning to question legislative staff about how the cuts will impact individual parts of the budget.
Public wants schools funded
The latest major poll of Kansans' attitudes towards the state's public education system shows nine out of 10 Kansans believe public education is worth the investment of tax dollars, and that protecting funding for public education should be one of the highest priorities when decision are made by the state government.
"The survey validates what we have heard in communities all across the state," said West. "Kansans believe our kids are getting a quality education and that the highest priority for this Legislature is to protect public school funding. We had hoped the Legislature would pay attention."
The poll, commissioned by the Kansas School Boards Association (KASB), showed the vast majority of Kansans believe all students should have equal access to educational opportunities, no matter their zip code.
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