School finance ruling impacts rural schools

Classroom (KSN File Photo)

GREAT BEND, Kansas – The new school funding bill has some rural schools frustrated saying the extra funding won’t amount to much when it comes to helping kids.

“I’ve been told to not expect any new money, so I don’t think we’ll be able to have an inflated budget, or anything like that where we will have extra money to hire new teachers, or new aids, or new paras, or anything like that,” said Bill Keeley, La Crosse Public Schools Superintendent.

It is not only funding, schools are worried about the impact on educators.

“It’s more loopholes that we have to jump through as teachers, and it’s hard enough to get teachers to come back to rural areas in Kansas, and then you add these restraints and fewer teachers in the pool to pick from and bigger cities will be able to offer more,” said Jon Webster, La Crosse High School.

Webster was referring to part of the bill that removes teacher tenure. It has received a lot of criticism.

“To some degree, it casts a pull over what they’re doing over public education as an institution, like some teachers feel like they’re being attacked and unfairly targeted, and that can cause morale issues,” said Ben Jacobs, Ellinwood Superintendent.

Some administrators say the bill makes it harder to recruit new teachers.

In turn, that will leave students shortchanged.

“You know bottom line, it’s all about the kids, and in my opinion, I don’t think the legislature, and especially, the Senate focused on the kids,” said Keeley.

For most rural schools, the biggest funding impact on the bill comes in potential property tax decrease for its residents.

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