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  • Last modified 3502 days ago (April 15, 2009)

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Our choice, for now

An interesting story emerged from the Kansas City Star reporter David Klepper who reported that even though Kansas school districts appear to have dodged the chopping block this time around, the hatchet remains in the hands of legislators if there is another storm in the economic forecast.

Lawmakers will get a look at those predictions Friday. If the news is bad, more cuts probably are on the way when legislators return to session April 29 after a three-week break.

There is a catch with all of this.

School districts are caught in the middle because if they plan to lay off teachers or administrators to balance next year’s budget, those employees must be notified by May 1. We all know how slowly the wheels of legislature turn. By the time lawmakers figure out what they are going to do and then vote on it, it will be well past that May Day deadline.

So, what are school districts supposed to do?

A suggestion is plan for the worst and hope for the best. What if the five school districts in Marion County receive $30 less per student in the 2009-10 school year?

Let’s see.

Probably the first thing to go would be extracurricular activities. No, maybe not. There are so many students who are not involved in other activities such as sports or academia. It would be a shame to eliminate that option.

O.K.

How about eliminating free or reduced meals? No, that is a federal mandate and besides, there are children in our county who are only fed once or twice a day through the school lunch program. That won’t work.

Hmmm.

They could cut vo-ag programs but wait. We are an agricultural county. We need our children to have other options with career choices than college.

Well, what can be cut?

Tough, isn’t it?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again at the risk of having my head chopped off, but I still say there would be some benefit to consolidating the school districts, not by school buildings or even by district but by uniting the central offices.

One cannot help but to think there could be cost savings by compiled ordering of books, computers, furniture, paper — all of the necessities of operating schools.

Instead of paying five superintendents five annual salaries, we would pay for one head honcho, whatever the title might be, with “superintendents” or building managers managing their individual districts.

We are not ready for one school district in the county but why not look at the consolidation of some services?

I know, I know. These wheels would turn even slower and probably would halt because everyone wants to keep they have.

Right now, we have options. A few years from now, we may not. It is out choice.

— susan berg

Last modified April 15, 2009

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