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Community Members, Educators Protest Potential Cuts To Wichita Public Schools Budget

Abigail Wilson

A large, emotionally charged crowd gathered at the Board of Education meeting Monday night. Some were carrying signs protesting cuts to public education.

As has been the case in previous meetings, community members voiced concerns about budget-balancing measures being considered by Wichita Public Schools. Efforts to stabilize the budget include reducing the number of custodial staff, librarians and school nurses.

Board member Lynn Rogers apologized to teachers and staff at the meeting and acknowledged that none of the suggested cuts are good for education. He encouraged the crowd to take that message to the rest of the community and the state Legislature.

"We cannot just talk amongst ourselves and be angry or be upset," Rogers said. "We’ve got to get other folks to vote. We’ve got to get them to understand the situation."

Wichita Public Schools is working to reduce day-to-day costs by $12 million in order to make ends meet for the next school year.

At the same meeting, board members voted unanimously to end the school year two days early for students attending public schools in Wichita. School will now end on Friday, May 20, rather than Tuesday, May 24.

The move, which will save the district $400,000, takes advantage of unused snow days that are scheduled into the calendar as a precaution. The savings in operating costs will be applied to next year’s troubled budget, which is suffering from state cuts to education.

Last week Gov. Sam Brownback proposed additional cuts to public schools totaling $57 million as part of a move to close a $290 million deficit for this year and next year’s budget.

The Legislature is considering another look at restoring some of the small business tax cuts that Brownback installed in 2012.


Follow Abigail Wilson on Twitter @AbigailKMUW.

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