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Democrats urged to be alert to school legislation

Staff writer

Politics and school funding aren’t always easy to reconcile, retired Goessel superintendent John Fast told county Democrats on Saturday.

Recounting tales from his years as a superintendent, Fast talked about a bill during the days Sam Brownback was governor that would have reduced school funding and taken away weighting factors that help balance out per-pupil state funding for schools.

“I looked at it and thought, ‘Oh, my goodness — they are really targeting small schools,’” Fast said.

He asked audience members how they would have reacted. Should superintendents panic school employees by announcing how dire the problem was?

Goessel’s school board went into an executive session to discuss the proposal and then contacted former state representative Bob Brookens, a moderate Republican, he said.

Fast researched the politician who had written the bill.

He then made many phone calls to other superintendents

Eventually, a large number of superintendents showed up for a hearing. They were told five of them could speak for 10 minutes each.

The room was packed, and other legislators came to see what would happen, Fast said.

Superintendents told legislators what effect the proposition would have on small districts in the state.

“After the meeting, we left not knowing what was going to happen next,” Fast said.

Their efforts were not in vain. The bill was not even brought up on the floor.

“When things look bleak, never give up,” Fast said. “From that point on, I paid a lot more attention to what was going on.”

Brian Stucky, who introduced Fast to party members, spoke about current claims that smaller districts should be shut down.

Closing districts where population is less than 2,000 would in some areas mean students would ride a bus three hours to get to school and another three hours to get home afterward.

Party members also heard an update on a $500 Chris Costello Memorial Scholarship for 2024. The Costello scholarship is for this year only, but the party gives a scholarship each year.

Information has been sent to all five county high schools. Applications are due at 5 p.m. April 12. A committee of Jan Helmer, Jill Tichenor, Michael Powers, Ann Carr, and Linda Ogden will review applications and decide.

Last modified Feb. 14, 2024

 

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