Archive for Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Statewide coalition proposes additional funds for education

October 11, 2000

Several Tonganoxie residents last week received a lesson on one group's vision for financing public schools in Kansas.

During a lunch meeting Thursday in Lecompton, eight representatives of Tonganoxie joined about 20 other northeast Kansans to hear a presentation by a representative from the Kansas Association of School Boards.

During the session, Mark Tallman outlined the School Finance Coalition's plan to strengthen public schools. The plan, which will be presented to the 2001 Kansas Legislature, has the backing of several statewide school organizations, as well as Kansas' six largest school districts.

It calls for expenditures of $650 million.

"That's a huge amount of money until you consider the tax cuts across the state have totaled $800 million," said Tallman, who is a lobbyist for the state association.

It's highly unlikely the Kansas Legislature would approve the plan as is. Richard Erickson, superintendent of Tonganoxie schools, said it could be implemented over three to five years.

"It's a good starting point," he said.

Seven Tonganoxie community leaders joined Erickson at the meeting.

"I was pleased we had eight representatives from Tonganoxie," Erickson said. "I think it's good we try to inform our public of some of the challenges that public education faces here in Kansas in the coming years. The response that I received was very positive. People who attended thought it was very informative."

Erickson said he would like to discuss the funding proposal with the district's Patron Advisory Council.

He said he's pleased that lobbying efforts on behalf of education will be unified.

"In the past, I think we've been too fragmented," he said. "I think they're focusing on areas that will be important to public education in the future. It's very important now. I strongly support it. I think it's a good platform."

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