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McLouth USD 342 board members holding on to surplus for now

by Dennis Sharkey

The McLouth USD 342 board has a budget surplus of more than $153,000 for this school year, but no one is patting themselves on the back yet.

Last month Superintendent Jean Rush went over the budget numbers with the board and a small amount of spending was added back into the budget. The Knowledge Bowl activity was reinstated along with additional committee people added back into a district steering committee.

But Rush says don’t expect board members to add more spending to the budget this month. She said there are still too many questions still unanswered when it comes to the state’s budget and the economic conditions of the state’s work force.

“If people have jobs they can spend money,” Rush told the Independent last month. “I think November will be an important month.”

November is an important month for educators because the Kansas Revenue Census Committee meets to forecast revenues for the state. The committee meets twice in a year, once in November and again in April. Last November was also when the first of three cuts to state aid occurred.

The big question educators have without a clear answer is what happens to education funding next June when federal stimulus money goes away. It’s the question that has USD 342 holding onto extra cash.

“If you told me I had to cut another $300 from student aid because federal stimulus money isn’t being replaced, it would be extremely difficult for us to do that,” Rush said.

“It’s a huge amount of money,” she said. “It’s not only what happens to the current economic conditions in Kansas but what happens to fill the gap of the revenue that’s been provided by the federal government.”

Rush said the question is compounded by the fact that federal stimulus money only backfilled the state’s budget the last two years and despite having the extra funding, school aid was still cut three times during the school year last year.

Rush said the USD 342 budget is not in crisis mode at the moment. But depending on the economic climate and how those underlying questions are answered, the situation could shift.

“It has the potential of being in crisis,” she said. “There are a lot of variables out there that truly could have a significant impact depending on which way it goes.

“At the federal level I’m not hearing any more discussion about stimulus money,” she added.

Rush said the biggest disappointment is all of the hard work that has been accomplished in education is starting to erode because of the cuts.

“We have really made improvements in student achievement but most of the support we had for students and teachers we’ve done away with to balance the budget,” she said.

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Posted by on Nov 9 2010. Filed under County News, McLouth School District, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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