Brownback’s plan for disaster

Whitney Saporito Managing Editor

In his State of the State speech last month, newly elected Governor Sam Brownback expressed his support for public education in Kansas.
“The budget I am submitting to this Legislature for its consideration will provide school districts with more overall state funding,” Brownback said.
It seemed Brownback was on the right track, as no one would argue that education is not important.
Then he proposed his budget, which came as a slap in the face to school districts across the state and made his commitment to funding K-12 public education seem more like lip service.
Although Brownback’s policy director, Landon Fulmer, reported an increase in education spending by $129.3 million, as reported in the Wichita Eagle, the majority of that will go to KPERS, the education retirement fund, and will not find its way to the classroom.
Brownback’s proposed education funding, although helping to fund KPERS, results in classroom cuts of $232 per student in base student aid for fiscal year 2012.
As school districts across the state are forced to cut their budgets by hundreds of thousands of dollars, superintendents are left scratching their heads wondering what else they could possibly cut.
Stories of superintendents turning down thermostats, cutting back to four school days a week, consolidating schools and firing teachers are becoming common in Brownback’s Kansas.
Though his attempt to make cuts is a necessary move, as the state constitution requires that Kansas have a balanced budget, is this really the best way to go about it?
Cuts to education funding may pay off financially for the state in the short term, but what will the effects of an under-educated population be in the future?
Brownback has spoke often of making Kansas competitive both in convincing graduates to stay in the state and attracting employers. How can Kansas be competitive with an under
valued, underfunded education system?

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