SUMMER FREE MEALS
The "Summer Feeding Program" is a service of Whitestone Mennonite Church for anyone in the community of Hesston. Lunch and activities are provided every Wednesday during the summer months, according to the following schedule/locations.
11:00 a.m.-noon at Maple Ridge Apartments community building, 400 Maple Ridge Rd.
Noon-1:00 p.m. at Eastview Gardens Apartments, 225 E Hickory
Several times during the summer, food bags will be available for families to take home after the lunch. Contact Ron Moyo at 620-327-4123 for more information.
June 24, 2016
Yesterday the Kansas legislature reconvened for a special legislative session to address the Supreme Court ruling that the current school funding law does not satisfy the equity mandate based on the Kansas Constitution. The timeline is growing shorter by the day as the Supreme Court has ruled that if the legislature cannot develop an equitable funding formula by July 1 then school districts across our state will face closure. Although there is still uncertainty surrounding what a school closure actually looks like, we know without a doubt that it would be damaging to our schools, our people, and our state.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to drive to Topeka and meet with other superintendents around Kansas to hear what options might be put on the table by various groups in the legislature. We were told there are three plans, one from the democrats, one from the republicans, and one from the moderates. Each of these plans had a common element and that is to put $38 million into the Local Option Budget formula which is the agreed upon dollar amount that will fix the equity portion of the current school funding law. The difference in the plans is in where the $38 million comes from.
Several committees met yesterday with both the Senate and House Ways and Means Committees focused on the school funding bill. Both committees looked specifically at only one of the bills and that was the one from the GOP which received approval from both committees and will now go before the legislative body. That plan would pull funds from every school district's general fund to help collect the necessary $38 million to put into LOB. The total amount taken from the general fund would be $13 million which makes up half of one percent of the overall general fund for school districts and this would mean a cut of approximately $22,000 for Hesston. Other state funds that would be impacted include: virtual school funding ($3 million); Temporary Assistance for Need Families fund ($4.1 million); extraordinary needs funding ($8.5 million); and "new money from the state" ($10 million).
It has been reported that many superintendents across Kansas are "supporting" or at least "not opposing" this particular bill as a best option. Although some school district leaders have expressed no opposition for this bill, there are many who are opposed especially as it takes money from the general fund to redistribute. There are really two main concerns with that. First and foremost, there are questions about whether pulling dollars from every school district in Kansas will "run afoul" with the adequacy requirement of any school funding law. The court has stated that in order to develop equity, the funding formula must not "run afoul" with adequacy. Many feel that reducing the general fund will do just that and therefore the court will strike this bill down just as it did before.
The second concern with a cut to the general fund is that school districts were promised at the beginning of 2015-16 that we would have two years of flat funding (no increase or decrease) while a new long-term plan was developed. For Hesston, we would lose a combined $69,000 with $22,000 coming from our general fund and $47,000 from LOB for this coming year under this plan. These numbers are available through KSDE and can be found by clicking here. It is important to note that there are other options that the legislature could look at where the general state aid for school districts remains untouched. Those plans are organized and available to our lawmakers, but it is unclear if they are being considered at this time.
In August we will have 800 young people from our community between 5 and 18 years of age who are excited about the start of school, are ready to learn, and we must be prepared to provide the very best we have to each of our kids. For this reason, we will continue to advocate for funding that allows our schools to be the very best we can be for our kids. I am excited about what the future holds for Hesston Schools and the year ahead and am optimistic that when the focus stays on our kids, then we can move our local schools and our entire state in a positive direction. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime should you have questions about this topic or any other related to school district and state matters. Our office number is 620-327-4931 and my email address is email@example.com.
June 8, 2016
The clock is currently ticking for the Kansas Legislature as a June 30 deadline looms to put a school funding plan in place that will satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court's interpretation of the state constitution for equitable K-12 public school funding. On Tuesday, Governor Brownback called for a special legislative session in order to address the school funding crisis with the intent to avoid closure of school districts across the state. Along with the disruption to the essential operations of districts during the summer months, any short or long-term shutdown of public schools in Kansas would have severe economic consequences for our entire state.
On a local level, our central office staff has been working to ensure we are prepared for any type of school closure in July. This includes logistical preparations for work that would typically be done in July, but more importantly, it means planning ways we can best take care of our staff whose regular work schedule would be disrupted if a shutdown included the inability for folks to work. We have a large number of staff who work throughout the summer to clean buildings, complete projects, prepare for the coming year, lead professional development trainings, and perform many other essential tasks during the month of July.
We will continue to put plans in place to ensure that we can account for any scenario that may come our way, but based on conversations with experts at the Kansas State Department of Education, along with feedback from Representative Schroeder and Senator McGinn, there is reason for optimism that the legislature is going to do the necessary work to ensure school districts stay open.
As we learn more in the coming days, we will continue to update our staff and our community on decisions that are made in Topeka that will directly impact our local schools and our entire community and state. In the meantime, if you would like further information on this topic or any other related to state or school matters, please call, email, or stop by to visit. Our office number is 620-327-4931 and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 31, 2016
On Friday afternoon, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling on whether House Bill 2655 met the state constitutional requirement for equitable funding for Kansas school districts. In its ruling the Court stated that this finance formula does not meet the equity standard, and in addition, the Court kept its June 30 deadline for the legislature to develop a formula that does meet the equity standard. This means that unless there is a new plan in place that is approved by the court by June 30 then school districts will lose their ability to spend money in the new fiscal year beginning July 1 based on the fact that there is not a constitutional funding mechanism in place for public schools in our state.
One of the challenges right now is that with this ruling brings so many unknowns. One of the most important things we can learn in the short term is how the legislature will address the Court's ruling or even if they will address it at all. We should learn more about this in the next few days as the legislature returns to Topeka for its final session of the current term. In addition to the unknowns related to the legislature's intent is also the very short timeline no matter what they decide to do.
We know that the ruling from Friday afternoon was an expedited process and it still took several months for the hearing to take place and a ruling to be issued. This means that even in the best scenario where a new funding mechanism is developed and approved by the court, unless there is an extension of the June 30 deadline, then districts' ability to spend will be impacted come July 1.
There are many implications that would come from any type of loss of spending authority for districts. Some of them involve the day to day operations that take place within the district during the summer months. The impacts continue to grow as we get closer to August, and although it is a difficult subject due to so many unknowns, our district, like every other in Kansas, must prepare for the worst and hope for the best at this point. That means we will need to develop our list of potential implications that a loss in spending authority would create and how this will negatively impact our school district, our community, and ultimately our people.
The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) will be a valuable resource for school districts and they have shared a document that will help guide us in our communication on how a school "shutdown" could impact all of us. You can access that document by clicking here. KASB has also shared a resource with a summary of the opinion of the Supreme Court and you can access that document by clicking here.
The Board of Education will be discussing this topic at our next regularly scheduled meeting on June 6 beginning at 7:00 pm in our USD 460 administrative building. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions about this topic or any other related to district and state matters. Our office number is 620-327-4931 and my email address is email@example.com.