Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools to Implement Significant Budget Cuts


May 28, 2015

Contact: David Smith, Chief of Staff, (913) 279-2242

The Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS) is implementing significant budget cuts for the 2015-16 school year, in response to reductions in state funding and increases in certain fixed costs. These costs will have impacts across the system, with some staff being laid off, furlough days required for many employees, and major cuts to all department budgets.

“We are in a very difficult position with our budget,” said Chief Financial Officer Dr. Kelli Mather, “and we are at a point where we have to act in order to be ready for the next school year. These cuts will create real pain, but we have worked hard to make them in a way that will still allow us to reach our goal of graduating each student prepared for college and careers.”

The cuts include the elimination of a position on the Superintendent’s leadership team, the Chief of Human Resources position.

“It is important for staff and the community to know that, when cuts have to be made, they start at the top,” said Dr. Cynthia Lane, superintendent of KCKPS. “We have cut more than $50 million in the past seven years, and there is no longer any fat left to be cut. We are forced to make cuts to things that really matter to our work.”

In addition to the Chief of Human Resources position, the district is eliminating the position of assessment manager, a position that previously provided support to schools in implementing local and state assessments, and in interpreting and using the results to drive improvement. This change will result in the reduction of 30 positions across the district.

“This is a difficult position to eliminate,” said Dr. Lane. “We put it in place in order to free principals and teacher leaders to focus on improving classroom instruction. We will need to work hard to make sure that our building leaders maintain their focus on strengthening teaching and learning.”

Additional cuts will include four furlough days for all year-round employees, along with a reduction in the number of contract days for certain staff, including teacher leaders. Non-personnel related cuts include a reduction of $900,000 in funding for alternative services, a 10% cut to all school and department budgets, a reduction of $350,000 in textbook purchases, and reduced spending on technology, transportation, professional development, supplies and summer school, among other things.

The budget cuts are coming after the Kansas legislature passed, and Governor Brownback signed Senate Bill 7, a Block Grant bill which decreases the amount of state funding the district will receive over the next two fiscal years. These reductions are on top of cuts school districts across the state have seen over the past seven years, which have created a school funding system that a three-judge panel in Shawnee District Court has declared unconstitutional. KCKPS is one of the lead plaintiffs in that lawsuit, Gannon v. State of Kansas.

Cuts are also necessary in order to provide resources to support important district initiatives, according to Dr. Lane. “We are working hard to prepare each student for college and careers,” said Dr. Lane, “and in order to do this, they must have access to college classes and certificate programs, some of which are not supported by state funds. We have made the commitment to provide our students with the support they need to be ready for their future, and we cannot go back on that commitment.”

In addition, the district is facing increases in certain fixed costs, including health insurance, which will rise by approximately $2.2 million, and some necessary upgrades to technology infrastructure. And the decreases in state funding will be magnified because the district will no longer be receiving additional funding to serve new students. The district has grown by an average of 500 students over each of the past five years. Before Senate Bill 7, the district would have expected to receive an additional $1.4 million in state aid to educate those students, along with additional funds for special needs, such as poverty and students who need to learn English.

And with the budget situation in Topeka far from settled, additional reductions in school funding might force the district to make more cuts.

“The state is failing in its constitutional obligation to provide a suitable education for all students,” said Dr. Lane. “The decisions being made in Topeka will impact the lives of children in Kansas for generations to come. I pray that legislators will decide to do the right thing, and provide sufficient support for public schools across the state of Kansas.” 

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242