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Superintendent's Corner

posted Feb 1, 2016, 10:54 AM by website team   [ updated Feb 1, 2016, 11:28 AM ]
Since 1879, Madison has built a long and proud tradition surrounding its schools.  For well over 100 years, parents, teachers, and community members have worked together to educate, mold, guide, and support the next generation.  Many students return to make Madison their home so that their own children can have similar experiences.  While the details may change, the stories from students over the years are in large part the same, filled with fond memories and close friendships formed between classmates, teachers, and community members. 

Today, this proud tradition is at great risk with HB2504.  HB2504 was introduced by Representative John Bradford (R) – Lansing.  The bill was introduced as a school “realignment” bill, but has largely become known as the school “consolidation” bill.  This bill would reduce the number of school districts from 286 to approximately 132 by forcing districts to merge together.  In counties with less than 10,000 students, there would be a single countywide school district.  Greenwood County would have one school district.  While it is not specified in the bill, the thought is that this would lead to one county wide school board.  Madison’s local control of what takes place in their schools would be eliminated.  In education, the majority of costs are in personnel.  The only way to significantly reduce costs is to close buildings and eliminate staff.  HB2504 makes this a very likely possibility if passed.  Initial estimates are that this bill would save a little over $17 million dollars a year in a $6.2 billion dollar budget.  While $17 million to each of us would be a lot of money, at the state level, it amounts to an increase or decrease one month’s revenue amounts.  The potential harm is tremendous when compared to such a small amount of savings.   Proponents of the bill do not even attempt to discuss the impact on student achievement or school improvement.  This bill is simply about reducing costs! 

 House Bill 2457 would expand a program that provides tax credits for contributions to pay for students to go to private schools.  In other words, it takes your public dollars and pays for students to go to private schools.  Unlike public schools, private schools may be selective in their admissions process.    Additionally, private schools face no reporting requirements to gauge student progress or document student success.  This further strains the state budget in a time when schools are already seeing a reduction in operational funding. 

House Bill 2486 deals with school bond projects.  The bill would require a state legislative approval for a bond project further politicizing the funding of public education.  Additionally, funding for projects dealing with support functions, safety features, and student activities are not equalized meaning that the tax burden on local patrons will be higher in districts with a lower assessed valuation.  For example, if Madison wanted to have a bond issue for school safety and security, state aid would not be provided.

For the past 5 years, teachers, administrators, and public education in general have been under attack.  Local control (your voice) has continued to be eroded by the legislature.  What would Madison look like without our schools?  What would happen to Madison families if USD #386 had zero employees?  One could argue that if that happened, Madison might just be a place where we talked about what it was instead of what it is.  When making educational policy, what is best for kids should always be the top priority.  None of the legislation above was crafted with what’s best for kids in mind.

The time to ask these questions and have the discussion is NOW.  If you wait to become engaged until after the decisions are made, it will be too late.  I would encourage you to share your thoughts with any or all of the following local representatives in our Kansas Legislature. 

Forest Knox, Senator Forrest.Knox@senate.ks.gov                           785-296-7678

Jeff Longbine, Senator Jeff.Longbine@senate.ks.gov                          785-296-7384

Larry Hibbard, Representative larry.hibbard@house.ks.gov                  785 296-7380

Peggy Mast, Representative peggy.mast@house.ks.gov                     785-291-3500

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website team,
Feb 1, 2016, 10:54 AM