Rumors that USD 382 will suspend its popular Beyond the Bell program and the Bridges to Learning preschool are untrue — reminiscent of Mark Twain’s response to a reporter a century ago, “The reports of my death are exaggerated.”


Rumors that USD 382 will suspend its popular Beyond the Bell program and the Bridges to Learning preschool are untrue — reminiscent of Mark Twain’s response to a reporter a century ago, “The reports of my death are exaggerated.”
“We’re very committed to Beyond the Bell,” Superintendent Glen Davis said.
Bridges to Learning is a federally-mandated service to special needs preschool children operated by the South Central Kansas Special Education Cooperative.
Beyond the Bell provides after-school supervision, academic support, enrichment activities and playtime for children in kindergarten through fifth grade from Haskins and Southwest Elementary schools, as well as Sacred Heart Catholic school.
“There is a lot of support for the program,” Davis said. “It enhances the quality of life for our children; we don’t have children going home to empty houses.”
The program was established seven years ago with the aid of a large federal grant, which has since expired. Other smaller grants have been received, and the program has been sustained by making it fee-based this year and operating only in Southwest School. Previously, children could attend at either Haskins or Southwest.
Davis speculated that a bill reported out of committee last week that would cut $17 million from early childhood programs might have given rise to the rumor. That bill also targets Parents as Teachers programs, which Pratt and Skyline Schools operate jointly. He does not believe the bill will pass both houses and receive the governor’s support.
He is very concerned, however, about a proposal recommended by the House Appropriations Committee, that would reduce state aid to school districts and force them to raise local property taxes. Davis estimates House Bill 2739 would cut USD 382’s state aid by $460,000 and require a property tax increase of 9 mills.
“It’s just unacceptable,” he said.
The Board of Education approved changes earlier this month that would close a budget gap of more than $600,000 resulting from previous reductions in state aid.