Let’s talk school funding (again)

I recently attended a special Olathe School Board meeting about the proposed 2016/17 budget. Two words: balancing act

I do not envy the job that the district’s CFO has. But I am totally impressed with how he performs his job — he presents budget info in an easy-to-understand way that even this non-mather understands.

You may remember that mailer from my opponent stating that the district spends $12,805 per pupil. That was the proposed budget amount for 2015/16. What he didn’t disclose is that figure also included bonds, interest and KPERS payment.

The actual amount for 2015/16 is $11,985 – which also includes bonds, interest and KPERS payment. Taking out those numbers, the amount spent per pupil is $9,742, but even that amount has items in it that are necessary to run a district but are restricted in use (ex. food service).

Here’s where the balancing act comes into play…

The Block Grant (that my opponent voted for and that has been declared unconstitutional) has frozen the district’s operating budget (unless contractually required to be increased) and doesn’t allow for growth. Olathe grows every year — about 290 new students in the 2015/16 school year. 200 is the projected number for 2016/17 (I bet we’ll surpass that number). So, the district gets more students, but not more money for their education costs. Just because the state has frozen the district’s operating budget doesn’t mean that operating costs aren’t going up.

Base State Aid/pupil was $4,400 in 2009. In 2015, it was $3,852/pupil.

Where’s that increase in education funding that most incumbents are touting on and on about?

HB 2001 (passed in this year’s special session to address the Court’s order) cost the district to lose $75,000. The bill decreased state aid by $650,000, but raised capital outlay by $575,000. So when you see mailers about how my opponent saved our schools from closing – know that he really cost them money. Not to mention the cost to taxpayers for the special session because the legislature didn’t address the issue during regular session.

Remind me again how my opponent has been so supportive of Olathe schools? Or perhaps I should remind you of his voting record when it comes to school funding.

Also, which candidate has been endorsed by local education organizations? That’s right — me!!


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