Letters (June 8, 2016)

Closing schools would hurt Kansas

We now know the current school funding formula was ruled unconstitutional for the “equity test” of the Gannon lawsuit and a deadline of June 30 was established as the timeframe in which it needs to be remedied. The implications of this ruling are significant.

USD 410 operates a summer school for our special education students and provides facilities for Prairie View to operate a summer camp. We continue to shuttle students to summer activity trips. Teacher and staff trainings are ongoing throughout the summer.

Maintenance, lawn care and cleanings are at their busiest during the summer months and are essential for safe and orderly schools as well as a point of pride for our community.

The district office staff continue to pay vendors and employees and work on all facets of district operations.

If no state aid comes to schools after June 30, we put at risk all of these important functions, not to mention the very real possibility of not opening on time in August. This alone would be a big problem for our students; however, there are other very serious implications.

If school funding stops, the Kansas economy would suffer a blow from which it would take years to recover. School spending equals 4.5 percent of the Kansas economy. Kansas schools employ 67,000 people who earn $3 billion a year. These employees pay income taxes to the state, pay mortgages, and buy groceries, cars, etc.

Schools also pay $735 million for purchased services and $657 million in supplies and materials annually. Many, if not most, of these dollars flow directly to our businesses and towns in which the local school resides.

Finally, our schools are responsible for $500 million in debt payments annually that would be at risk of delay or default should funding stop.

Our schools are the lifeblood of our kids, communities and Kansas for a number of reasons. Let’s get back to work on a funding formula that not only meets the equity test required by our Kansas Constitution but also is adequate for every child to receive a world-class education.

Steve Noble

USD 410 superintendent