Administration at Skyline keeps a close eye on Topeka Legislation and its impact on the school budget

Kansas legislators have until the end of spring to produce a workable education funding plan that meets the meets the Kansas Supreme Court ruling on financing education. Skyline Superintendent Becca Flowers brought the Skyline Board of Education up to date on legislative activity during their monthly meeting March 13.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled March 2 that state funding for education was not constitutionally adequate. The Court gave the Legislature until June 30 for fix the funding issue. They have to come up with a finance formula that meets the Court's ruling. It will take $10 billion over the next 10 years to get funding where it needs to be, Flowers said.

The Legislature has develop another revenue bill. They had a decent revenue package but Gov. Brownback vetoed the bill. The House voted to override the veto but the Senate didn't have enough votes to override so they have to come up with another bill, Flowers said.

Susan Wagle, President of the Kansas Senate, wants to see a two percent cut across the board. This in spite of the Supreme Court ruling on education.

The House seems to be moving faster than the Senate on producing a workable bill. The House has heard eight bills so they are putting bills together and trying to move forward. The bill getting the most attention right now is HB 2270.

It's similar to the current bill but there is disagreement on how at-risk students are identified. It uses a census of all residents by income. It doesn't keep up with the actual at-risk numbers and is not accurate.

A household by household count is better, Flowers said.

Another area of concern for education is health insurance bill 2142. It cuts costs for the state but it also reduces benefits for the teachers.

All the legislative action seems to be coming out of the House but the Senate is not coming up with anything.

Another piece of Legislation getting a lot of attention among educators is the procurement bill that controls buying in bulk. It strips local control from schools from using their own judgement and hurts local businesses.

"We can get a better plan," Flowers said.

While the district hopes for the best on a revenue bill, a new math and science program will be a very positive addition for teachers. Skyline has been accepted for the Match and Science Partnership Grants made possible through Kansas State University and the University of St. Marys.

The grant program creates a virtually connected network of math and science teachers in grades K-8 so they can share ideas and expertise. Teachers get paid to learn in this grant program and they get to take the training at Skyline. Six teachers will participate at Skyline and they will receive 80 hours of training. About 60 teachers in Kansas are taking part in the program.

Usually, the bigger districts are accepted for the grants but Skyline has also been included this year.

The program goals are threefold: Increase teacher content knowledge; increase student achievement; develop a long-lasting collaborative network across the state in K-8 math and science classes.

"I like the professional followup support," Flowers said.

A facilities project that needs action soon is the gym floor and roof need repairs. The floor has an area that water has damaged and needs repair. Flowers said she has considered three options: refinishing the damaged area for about $1,700; replacing the damaged wood and confirming any presence of water underneath the damaged area for $5,000; refinishing the entire floor for an unknown amount. Flowers prefers the second option because it would reveal the full extent of the problem.

"I want to know," Flowers said.

Finding time to do the work is an issue. The gym is used a lot during the school year and it also gets a lot of activity during the summer when school is out.

The gym roof also needs action very soon. Flowers said she has sent out a request for bids and will report the response at a future meeting. She has estimated $90,000 for the cost.

The district also needs to purchase a van or Suburban type vehicle as well as look ahead to getting buses in a retirement cycle. The last payments on a pair of buses will be complete this year and next so that will help with transportation expenses.

In other Board action:

Andrew Nation was hired as the head football coach. Hannah Barilla was hired as a part time elementary teacher.