Wednesday, February 11, 2015

GUEST COMMENTARY: The Bonner Springs-Edwardsville School District's response to the school budget situation

By Dan Brungardt
Superintendent of the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville School District

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- I have recently received several phone calls and questions about school funding cuts.

As you may have already heard, on last Thursday Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced that he will be moving ahead with funding reductions for public schools and higher education.

The automatic cuts do not require legislative approval and are scheduled to go into effect on March 7th. By instituting this reduction measure, this partially helps to plug a hole in the state's looming budget deficit.  Specifically, it will save the State of Kansas $44.5 million in the current fiscal year.

The cuts were announced after the state missed its January revenue expectations by $47 million.

What does this reduction mean for USD 204?

The actual budget reduction resulting from this cut in the Base State Aid per Pupil for our district will be $143,315 in the current school year.

How will the district handle this budgetary setback?

This particular budget reduction will be offset through additional budget dollars the district received this year due to increased enrollment and by drawing down contingency funds and existing cash balances.  This budget reduction will be reflected in the ability of USD 204 to continue its recovery from the financial crisis that occurred between 2008 and 2012.

Recently, due to increased school funding that occurred because of the recovery of the local and state economies, the USD 204 Board of Education has been able to make the following gains:
  • Refill teaching, support staff and administrative vacancies
  • Replace aging buses that had reached the end of their safe life span.
  • Update and install security systems throughout the district.
  • Reinstate the school resource officer.
  • Rebuild the district technology infrastructure.
  • Replace aging computers and increase technology access for students.
  • Renovate/replace existing HVAC systems and roofs as needed.
  • Begin to work through a long-range facilities improvement plan that will update district facilities.
Additionally, the district has made financial gains by revitalizing an energy management plan, bidding our insurances, minimizing cost of custodial service, and working with the area special education cooperative to gain the ability to hire our own staff and transport special needs students which allows a cost savings without sacrificing services.

The concern that most school superintendent’s fear now is what would happen if state revenues continue to lag behind projections in the months of February through May and eventually what is going to happen next year.

If state revenues continue to drop, there is really no short-term option to increase current year revenue so the only option for state is to continue to cut spending which could significantly impact K-12 education for this and next year.

On behalf of the Board of Education, we appreciate the concern and ongoing support of the Bonner Springs/Edwardsville community.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact to me.  I will try to keep the community informed as more information becomes available.