February 2018

February, 2018

It is again, that time of the year give the patrons of USD223 a synopsis of what is currently happening with the State in regards to school finances.  Sad to say, the wheels are again turning slowly at the Capital.   

As you know, in the governor’s state of the state address, he claimed he was producing a structurally balanced budget.   And after it’s unveiling, the governor’s staff asserted the budget was indeed structurally balanced.  But it’s not.  Not even close.  Unfounded claims and assertions can’t make it so.  If you remember, last spring the three court judges ruled in favor of the school districts law suit and said that the State was not adequately funding the finance formula.  The judges gave the legislators until July 30th to fix the formula and put more money into the schools to legally meet the requirements of the statutes.  Sound familiar?  This is basically the same direction the judges gave our Governor and the legislators a year ago.

Kansas faces a giant gap between recurring revenue and recurring expenses, a gap that opened up immediately when revenue dropped sharply upon implementation of the 2012 income tax cuts.  Subsequently, the last five fiscal year budgets have all been structurally unbalanced, the general fund kept barely solvent by using up reserves, grabbing money from the other funds, borrowing, and one-time tricks.  In each of those years, Kansas became poorer—bank accounts depleted, debt way up, and credit rating down.

And even though our local legislators have an enormous task in front of them, a couple of our legislators, Senate President Susan Wagle and House Speaker Ron Ryckman sent a letter to the State Board of Education with a request to place Dale Dennis, the KSDE (Kanas State Department of Education) financial executive director, on administrative leave and also to conduct an immediate and independent audit of KSDE to determine if taxpayer dollars are being misallocated.  Wagle and Ryckman contended in their letter that “KSDE through Mr. Dennis, has improperly spent over $405 million in taxpayer dollars in violation of state law.”  Which, in my opinion, is simply a political and intentional misdirection of our legislators away from their duties of meeting the judge’s deadline.   Reports have said that Dale Dennis allocated State money as the legislators directed him to do so.  In other words – he did his job.

It should be noted that since 2009, state school funding has been cut, school funding has fallen behind inflation and Kansas has fallen behind in its financial commitment to schools in relation to other states.  For all school districts in Kansas, we are, again, in a very uncomfortable holding pattern waiting for our State leaders to make decisions for all our students’ education.  

Hopefully, good educational funding decisions will be made soon.  Same story 2nd verse, or is it the 3rd verse, or 4th verse?  It IS getting old……………

Brian Cordel, USD223 Superintendent