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Superintendent's Corner

posted Feb 3, 2015, 1:18 PM by website team   [ updated Feb 3, 2015, 2:32 PM by Ryan Bradbury ]

There are many exciting things going on in USD #386 Madison-Virgil.  The Outdoor Learning Center initiative is underway.  This initiative would incorporate Projected Based Learning in the area of Agriculture into the classroom at Madison Elementary.  The OLC would benefit PreK-12 students as well as providing students valuable experiences in the area of leadership.  See the article in the Madison News or on the school website for additional details. 

  If you have not already done so recently, I would encourage you to visit the school website (www.usd386.net).  Our school website team of Martie Helm and Quentin Haas has done an excellent job of updating the site with the latest news, activities, and announcements.  While you are there, check out the information regarding Legislative Updates, OLC, and extracurricular activities as well as updates regarding events, lessons, and activities within the classroom. 

As you may have read recently, the State of Kansas is in troubled waters in the area of finance.  If several transfers and budget adjustments are not made in the next 7-10 days, the state will not be able to pay its bills past the middle of February.  This is particularly troubling for schools who receive the large majority of their funds from the state. 

The biggest challenge of the current legislative session is dealing with what was thought to be a $279 million shortfall for the current year and $649 million next year.  This past week, January revenues came in $47.2 million under estimates which make the challenge even greater with a shortfall of $326 million for the current year and rapidly approaching the $700 million mark for FY16 and there are still three months remaining before the consensus revenue estimate group meets again in April!      

I like lower taxes as much as the next person, but the reality is that it takes a certain level of revenue to fund schools, roads, bridges, local government, etc.  Certainly a balance of revenue and spending is needed to operate in the most efficient manner.  The recent tax cuts enacted by the Kansas Legislature have the revenue decrease rapidly approaching the 1 billion dollar mark.  Reducing spending in the amounts needed to offset the drop in revenue in the current financial climate cannot be done without doing substantial damage to the programs funded by the state.  Kansas schools began the year with a Base State Aid per Pupil amount last used in the 20th century.  Solving the revenue shortfall by cuts alone will destroy public education as we know it today.  I am not trying to be over dramatic or shock you, but simply share the reality of the situation with you.  Our children have a constitutional right to a quality education.  By and large, Kansas educators do an outstanding job of providing a quality education for students.  Kansas ranks 10th in the nation on mastery of basic skills before high school as reported by NAEP.  Kansas ranks 5th in the percent of students tested meeting all four benchmarks out of all states where the majority of students take the ACT.  Kansas ranks 8th in the nation in educational achievement measured across outcome measures.  No state ranking higher in educational achievement spends less per pupil than Kansas.  In other words, the data makes a strong argument that taxpayers are getting a lot in return for their investment.  I would encourage you to engage in conversation not only with your legislators, but with your neighbor about what you are willing to do to protect a quality of education for all students.  As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.  Have a great week!  It is a Great Day to be a Bulldog!