To the editor:
As I was about to recycle my Leavenworth Times of Sept. 29, a colorful insert fell out. The title of the document was “Do Kansas schools have a funding problem?” After reading the document, which had no author or sponsor, all I could do was laugh.
But, it actually only reflected what politics in our country has stooped to. From the local level all the way to the national level we are witnessing and participating in a ridiculous mess. This insert was filled with misinformation from start to finish. The most ridiculous figure presented was the salaries (I am assuming) of several school superintendents in the state of Kansas. USD 229 was reported as $634,454 and the assistant superintendent at USD 512 at $422,198. We are talking negotiated contracts not invested income. Well, this is utterly absurd. If one is truly interested in the facts, just google the district website of those mentioned and you will find these numbers are grossly in error. The salaries of all district personnel are public record.
Let’s look at the K-12 cost per student vs. university books, tuition and fees. This is not apples and oranges, it is more grapes to watermelon. Per pupil spending takes most everything in the budget and is broken down per capita. I would entertain the writer of this insert to look at the total budget of the University of Kansas, not tuition, fees and books, and divide that out. I am quite sure it would be astronomical.
While we are on the subject, it costs between $20,000 and $40,000 a year per inmate for their incarceration. If you recall, some of our local elected officials and congressional people visited Guantanamo Bay. The mayor stated in an article when they returned that the budget there was $450 million. If the primary mission is the prison, then we the taxpayers are looking at about $7 million per inmate as there are only 61 inmates left on the island.
Finally, cash reserves have to be addressed. Cash reserves have a cap of 10 percent of the general fund budget and separately there is capital outlay. The monies in cash reserve are needed primarily because the state of Kansas has been slow in paying schools on time. This requires funds that need to be expended such as payroll, which has to be paid every month. Without those cash reserves, it would create quite a burden for any district to keep employees paid and the school doors open.
We have made great strides in USD 453 to reduce overhead spending and guard our cash reserves and capital outlay funds in order to meet unforeseen expenses that can easily occur. Sound business practices are essential to all school districts.
Just think about it, education is the most important thing we can invest in. Many of the problems in our society today can be attributed to a lack of education. Much of the burden to solve these issues are cast on our school systems, but in reality, a major part of the educational process starts and ends in the home.
So, I implore you to look beyond glossy, anonymous flyers and misleading speeches and investigate important issues on your own. If you cannot do that, then ask questions of those in the know rather than politicians stuck on rehearsed talking points.
I am the president of the USD 453 Board of Education, Leavenworth, however I amnot speaking for the board has a whole. My opinions are those of a frustrated citizen that encourages all of us to take a more active role in learning the truth about matters that affect our community.