State likely to cut additional money from school budgets
Few people, if any, have a clear idea of exactly where Kansas school finance is heading.
But one Topeka attorney puts it more bluntly than others: "I think we are headed for a train wreck," said Mark Tallman, assistant executive director of Kansas Association of School Boards.
Public education funding took a $27-per-pupil hit in August amid predictions that an additional cut will follow.
"The new federal law, 'No Child Left Behind,' continues the trend of requiring schools to do more than we've ever done before," Tallman said. "It's going to raise costs, it's going to require more staff, higher paid staff and more services per kids than we've ever done before."
Moreover, last week, Tallman said, the state board of education voted to propose an increase in graduation requirements for high school seniors, which would further increase education costs.
This runs contrary to the amount of state funding Kansas public schools will likely receive this year, he said.
In August Gov. Bill Graves cut $27 from the state aid school districts receive for each student. That means, the state aid is now $7 less than during the 2001-2002 school year.
And more bad news likely is on the way.
"Right now it would appear it would be cut at least as much as we already have this year another $27," Tallman said.
Veryl Peter, team leader for school finance with state Department of Education, said Friday that Tallman's guess could be low.
Graves' cut in August amounted to 0.75 of 1 percent, Peter said.
"The reason he didn't cut more is I believe they wanted to wait and see how revenues are going to come in," Peter said. "If revenues are coming in better than anticipated, or worse than anticipated, they are going to have to make more adjustments."
Peter has heard possible cuts of up to an additional 2 percent.
"Which would be close to another $80, which would make the cut total about $100," Peter said. "We've heard those numbers but I don't know if anybody has a good handle on it because they don't know what the state revenue picture will be in the next four to five months."