Actions speak louder than words…
Let’s look at my opponent’s words and the actions he took regarding school funding.
Funded & Protected K-12 Education: K-12 now has record funding – $6 billion, with Olathe receiving $88 million, or $12,805 per student.
First, $12,805 per student is the projected 2015/16 amount, the actual amount has yet to be released. If there’s so much record funding, why then, did the district have to make tough decisions going into the 2015/16 school year in order to make up a $2M budget shortfall? (source) When adjusted for inflation, the total spending per pupil is below 2007 levels and operating dollars have declined every year since 2009.
If he’s funded and protected our public schools, then why did my opponent vote YES to the following anti-public education bills?
- 2014 S Sub HB 2506: Bundled anti-public education policy (vouchers, due process, licensure), in exchange for a minimal K-12 budget.
- 2015 SB 228: Borrowed $1B to reduce state pension (KPERS) unfunded liability. No tax policy fix.
- 2016 H Sub SB 249: Patched remaining budget shortfall with delayed KPERS payment, fund transfers, fees, more higher education cuts, and delayed highway projects. Projected negative 2017 ending balance by $174M. No tax policy fix.
- 2016 HB 2292: Proposed the removal of college and career ready academic standards (Common Core).
Also, the SB 7 Block Grant (which my opponent voted YES despite the Olathe School District’s opposition) changed how districts calculate money. KPERS payments (when they’re made) are now included in the budget even though the money comes in and then goes right back out. And there are still limitations as to how monies can be moved from “bucket to bucket”.
I’ve met with Dr. Berry (now the former OSD superintendent) and several of the principals of the schools in the district multiple times since filing. I’ve heard that my opponent has never personally met with Dr. Berry or principals — how can you represent a school district if you’re not meeting with the leaders of it?
One last thing, I’ve heard at doors that my opponent has said that schools have plenty of money (see picture below, too), that he thinks we (I assume he means himself and the KS legislators) have let school funding get too big, and we (again, assume he means himself and KS legislators) are tightening belts back to correct it now by cutting back on administrative expenses. Hmm, interesting. Does he know the types of jobs included in administrative costs? Nurses, paras, counselors, teacher aides — you know, the backbone of a school.
- Nurses? Do you really want to get rid of nurses?
- Same for counselors in a district where we have a growing number of students who face serious problems at home. And educators will now be required to take suicide awareness classes. Who will a child identified as in need talk to?
- Paras are required by student IEPs.
- The number of Aides has gone up because they are cheaper to hire than teachers. This is a direct result of budget cuts, not a sign of bloat.
BTW, Olathe’s general administration budget is less than 2% of the overall operating budget.
Don’t forget this gem that he posted before the Special Session: