Wichita school district showcasing efficiency moves and pondering job cuts

Wichita Public Schools (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – The date when the largest school district in the state will recommend job cuts to its school board is March 21st.

“We have a big enough hole to fill that we are probably going to get into staff cuts,” says USD 259 Chief Finance Officer Jim Freeman. “There’s not enough dollars, quite frankly, in the non-salary cuts that we are looking at, so we’re probably having to look at what kind of staff cuts will be involved.”

Freeman announced the possible cuts as he talked about a budget shortage of up to $30 million because of flat revenues from the state this year and next year. He says school funding is flat, but expenses keep going up for everything from electricity to insurance.

But Freeman also wanted to showcase efficiency moves the district has made, and continues to make.

“The one thing that we get beat up a lot about is general administration,” says Freeman. “Only 1 percent of our operating budget is in general administration. We are certainly not top-heavy as some lawmakers have said.”

Freeman also showed off some things the district does in-house to save money.

Like the instrument shop, where the school district works on thousands of instruments each year for kids. The district used to outsource the work.

“If we were to contract that out, it would cost us probably a lot more,” explains Freeman. “This one item here will probably save the district several hundred thousand dollars a year in instrument repair and response time.”

Freeman says the district still can not cut enough and find enough efficiency moves to come up with $30 Million for next year.

“The board will start to look at and see options and that sort of thing to try and balance next year’s budget,” explained Freeman. The school board will get recommendations on March 21st.


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