District prepares to make difficult budget cut decisions; majority of faculty take lump sum option


Ravyn Truxal

K-State Singers perform for choir students on April 1.

Brianna Trotter, Business Manager

The Legislature last year presented a block grant system that left schools in Kansas’ poorer areas $54 million short. As a result, the Kansas Board of Education has had to find alternative ways to get funds to keep the school doors open. The school board is discussing cutting bus routes to trim from their current $27 million in transportation spending, but would result in making school more challenging for the students who rely on the bus for transportation.

Principal Gil Alvarez has already been made aware of the other potential cuts they are examining.

“There are programs that are [being considered to be] cut for all students whether it be JROTC, AVID, fine arts, performing arts and athletics,” Alvarez said.

The faculty at Northwest has already planned the budget for next year and they have had to make a backup plan, just in case.

“If we have to, we have made a 10 percent cut to our building funds,” Alvarez said.

Some other cuts being considered are school nurses, counselors, learning coaches, and assessment leaders. Counselor Betsy Terriere is feeling the pressure from these potential cuts.

“It not only hurts the people without jobs, but it also hurts the students because they won’t have as much to be involved in,” Terriere said. “I’m taking it a day at a time, I’m trying hard not to think about it.”

The Lump Sum

Many teachers in Kansas face a decision that may affect their pay through the summer. If the Kansas legislature fails to produce a budget the state Supreme Court considers constitutional by June 30, schools will face the threat of a statewide shutdown. In case this occurs, the school board and teacher’s union encouraged employees to take their salaries in a lump sum, instead of checks throughout the summer.

Of 64 Northwest faculty surveyed on March 31, 82.8 percent chose to take the lump sum option, compared to only 15.6 percent who took it last year.

“They’re recommending people to take [the lump sum] because people are worried that  if the state doesn’t go ahead and authorize the budget, that there will be no budget,” speech teacher Peter Crevoiserat said. “So we will be furloughed and you won’t have any money.”

Tech specialist Brian Latta is discouraged by the thought of taking a lump sum.

“It’s kind of disheartening talking about shutting down schools,” Latta said. “You’d get your money from what they already owe you, but if they shut down schools [students] wouldn’t be going to school and I wouldn’t be going to work. That’s obviously a problem.”

Nonetheless, Crevoiserat will stick to his usual pay schedule.

“No, I don’t plan to take it,” Crevoiserat said. “I’ve heard the rumors that it would be ‘prudent to do so.’”  

Kansas is not new the media spotlight regarding issues on education spending.

“Ten years ago was all about creation versus evolution and intelligent design,” Crevoiserat said. “They had to put stickers on science books saying ‘Evolution is just a theory,’ and the national news was like ‘Kansas, where your science book comes with a sticker.’ So we’ve always been known for having cuckoo stuff, it just comes with the territory.”

Crevoiserat recognizes that Gov. Sam Brownback is just like any other politician, meaning he’s under a lot of scrutiny.

“I don’t think he’s a bad guy,” Crevoiserat said. “I think he’s made some decisions that have gotten him a lot of scorn.”

Latta thinks differently.
“[We need a] new governor,” Latta said.

Without a new governor, though, some teachers are thinking of leaving the state and possibly the profession. Crevoiserat says he is staying.

“I’m a Kansas person [and I] don’t plan on leaving,” Crevoiserat said. “I heard of the people in Missouri putting up signs saying ‘Come work for us’. I don’t even know anybody who would want to drive to Missouri.”   

Latta can understand why teachers might consider a new location.

“I don’t think any honest educator is looking to leave Kansas for more pay,” he said. “It’s more about being treated fairly and feeling like they matter.”

As the rumors escalate the reality for a teacher continues to become scarier by the day.

“They are out of control,” Latta said. “It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.”