State aid should be reserved for rural schools only

We live in a state that is no longer collects enough tax money to operate our public schools, maintain our state highways and care for our needy.

We can’t pay our bills without robbing one state department to fund another.

We live in a state that no longer places a high value on educating our children, protecting our infrastructure from crumbling and caring for the sick and poor.

In a misguided, failed attempt to attract big new industries and businesses to Kansas, our state leaders, led by our governor, have cut so many taxes for the wealthy that the state cannot now pay its basic bills.

 The wealthy people and businesses awarded the tax breaks by the state were supposed to voluntarily lead the way to our  economic growth, but instead have just laughed all the way to the bank. And they’re still laughing.

Has your state taxes been lowered? Mine haven’t.

Kansas, for all intents and purposes, has abandoned its once proud, long heritage of excellence in K-12 public education.

Can you believe that the goal now of our State Legislature is simply to keep our public schools open until it can pass legislation to wipe the state’s hands clean of funding them?

The reason that state government took over public education in the first place, so many years ago, was to ensure that all Kansas children in all schools – small and large – would have the same excellent educational opportunities.

The many ideas circulating the Statehouse these days about public school education all revolve around one premise - returning the primary funding responsibility back to local taxpayers.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it does not consider how easy that will be for wealthy, urban and suburban districts and how difficult that will be for rural districts.

Since I have always lived in smaller, eastern Kansas communities – included the poorest county in Kansas (Woodson), I have had a lot of time to think about how we fund our public schools in this state.

The two things that I always thought made good common sense for schools were as follows:

*Incentives for public school districts to save money (instead of spending as much of their annual budgets annually out of fear the state will seize any carryover),  and…

*State aid should be just that – funding for just the school districts that need it.

In other words, since we are so poor now… no state aid should be awarded to school districts in Johnson County and other school districts like that in other wealthy urban areas that can easily raise enough local tax funds for their public schools.

In recent years, I have also added two other things that I believe are important to public education in this state:

*It is imperative that voters elect state leaders who support the public education system.

*If you want to send your kids to private schools, or home-school them, fine, but don’t expect state tax funds to follow the student or be awarded to you personally.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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