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States to Residents: Forget Promises to Restore School Funding

Remapping Debate - When Wichita Public Schools Superintendent John Allison learned that, thanks to rising revenues, Kansas was projected to have a budget surplus of more than $300 million at the end of the year - the state’s first surplus since the recession - he hoped that the legislature would use the money to restore the hundreds of millions of dollars that it had cut from education in the last three years.

From 2008 to the end of the current fiscal year on June 30th, Kansas will have slashed school funding by nearly $700 per student, a decline of more than 12 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. In Wichita, the state’s largest school district, those cuts came to about $60 million of its $600 million budget, Allison said, and translated into large-scale layoffs; the closure of five schools; the elimination of programs such as driver’s education, art, and music; the curtailment of professional development for teachers; and the deferral of necessary maintenance to school buildings.

“We couldn’t take another year like the last three,” Allison said. When news broke about the surplus, “We thought, ‘Finally, things are going to start getting back to normal.’”  Read more.

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