The Manhattan-Ogden Board of Education met on Wednesday night in the midst of some negative news. Earlier that afternoon the Governor’s office announced a revenue shortfall totalling $290 million dollars. Coincidentally, the board would be speaking about budget matters with a report from Lew Faust, Director of Business Services.
As reported by Faust, the district could possibly be relying on the taxpayers more than ever. The Governor’s office released three different proposals, which include ideas such as another drastic cut to highway spending along with more cuts to higher education. Faust also flirted with the idea of HB 2741, which is currently in consideration by the Supreme Court. Due to property values in Manhattan, the district would lose out on state aid and would need to raise the property tax rate by 3.5 mills, according to Faust’s projections.
Board member Aaron Estabrook told the board members to stand in solidarity with other districts, higher education, and other state agencies which could be harmed as a result of budget cuts. Board member Darrell Edie suggested that at future meetings the board should begin preparing a plan in the event schools would close on June 30.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board heard remarks from another opponent of the Manhattan Indian mascot. Kerry Keller addressed the board for public comment to make her stance known. Keller, a member of a local group called ReImage MHS, said it is time for Manhattan High to do away with the Indian because of the way it could make certain students feel. Keller recently attended a session at the University of Kansas, where she learned nearly 900 schools in the nation still use an Indian as their mascot. Keller asked the board to consider her plea, but also noted the Manhattan Indian is considered as a way to honor former Manhattan coach Dale Prentup.
The board also voted against a proposal to extend the current term of board members who were elected in the spring of oddnumbered years to the fall of oddnumbered years. The vote failed three to four, and board president Marcia Rozell commended members on their decision.
In new business, the board approved a new modified block schedule for Manhattan High and approved a bid for new laptop computers. The last day for seniors is May 19.