KCK Parents, School Administrators Fight Proposed State Budget Cuts

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Parents and community leaders are fighting proposed budget cuts in the Kansas City, Kansas, School District, but officials say that state funding cuts are making it a lot harder for students to prepare for college and careers.

According to district officials, part of the problem is based on property values in the district, noting that taxes on a particular property in KCK will raise $38,000 for one KCK student, while an identical property in neighboring Shawnee Mission will raise $116,000.

KCK School superintendent Dr. Cynthia Lane says that makes it difficult for her district to compete for and hire the best teachers.

"Over the last four years we've had to cut $45 million out of budget," said Dr. Lane. "We are really at bare bones of resources that we need. In order to move our kids forward. That translates into 150 teachers that were cut, and 400 other positions that had to be cut out of our district."

According to district officials, over 80 percent of the district's students live in poverty. But despite those challenges, reading scores in the district have risen 2,300 percent since 1996, and math scores are up 600 percent. However, Lane says that proposed changes in how Kansas schools are funded pose a real threat to making her students ready to compete in the real world.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed maintaining current levels of state funding for all schools, but Dr. Lane says that the money KCK schools get is equivalent to what they received in 1996. The governor's plan also includes eliminating extra aid for kids who don't speak English - in the KCK School District, there are over 8,000 students now learning English as a second language.

Parents like Corey Cullins say that it's time to make their voices heard in Topeka.

"It's been proven time and time again, the power of one vote can make a major difference," said Cullens. "And as long as everyone believes that, those one votes stack up and one vote becomes many votes and many votes have a large voice."

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