Clouds of uncertainty are settling in over USD 383 following a Supreme Court ruling and an impending political battle in Topeka. The Supreme Court is threatening to shut down public schools on July 1 if the Kansas legislatures do not adhere to the ruling of Gannon v. Kansas,which demands the state supply an additional $39 million to schools for the upcoming fiscal year.
“I would hope alarm bells are going off in Topeka,” Superintendent Bob Shannon remarked at Wednesday night’s board meeting. Shannon noted revenues are coming in $79 million less than expected for May, and that leaders left Topeka on Wednesday afternoon following an adjournment ceremony. According to Shannon, it appears the Governor may not intend to take any action.
Lew Faust, director of business services, talked about the case with board members and said the local option budget portion of the new school funding bill is what the supreme court found unconstitutional. Faust said justices found the current LOB formula could even feasibly increase the disparity between the rich and poor districts. Many Republican leaders have stated school districts are mismanaging money, which is why the state is in its’ current situation.
“One thing that would empower a board is a fiscally stable budget…one that we could move forward on, and plan, and not have to worry about disasters,” said vice president Aaron Estabrook.
Shannon instructor board members to leave the evening of June 22 clear, in case the board needed to have an emergency meeting to plan for the shutdown.
Mike Marsh, athletic director, spoke with board members about the current “Impact” technology being used at Manhattan High which helps monitor student-athletes for concussions. The district has used the technology for two years, and Marsh would like to see Impact testing become a requirement for all student-athletes entering each season.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board heard from a ReImage MHS supporter for the fourth meeting in a row. LaVerne Bitsie-Baldwin, a K-State professor and mascot activist, made her plea to the board and also thanked members for bringing the issue to the table this fall. Bitsie-Baldwin is part of the Navajo nation and currently has two children attending USD 383 schools.
In new business, the board approved a bid in the amount of $323,000 to Shulz Construction of Manhattan for pavement repairs at MHS-West.