OLATHE, Kan. — Olathe Public Schools said it’s facing a more than $28 million budget shortfall heading into this school year.

To make up for it, the district announced it will make cuts across the board, eliminate certain positions, and close the virtual school during an information session Tuesday night at Olathe South High School.

The district said this stems from a decline in enrollment, decrease in tax revenue and problems associated with COVID-19.

“My kid’s school is closed. You’re up there saying, ‘Well, we could look at closing schools.’ You already did!” Olathe Virtual School parent Pete Hausen said during the tense session.

Deputy Superintendent John Hutchison outlined the situation and where the cuts will have to be made.
He said the district is making a 25% cut across the board from department and school budgets. The number is 50% at academies.

Forty Kindergarten aide positions and 15 library secondary aide positions will be eliminated.

Among other cuts, Olathe Virtual School- which Hutchison described as expensive and unsustainable- closes.

“[I’m] upset, upset, frustrated,” Hausen said. “As I said last week in the meeting, shame on the district. Shame on them. They had every opportunity to fix this.”

Parents were allowed to submit questions via email, which district representatives read Hutchison and he answered. Some parents were upset about how that was handled.

“Only half the questions that we asked got actually put into there,” Breanna Leahy said. “And the questions that were asked, they removed half of them, so they spun them to what they wanted to be asked, not what we wanted to know.”

“They’ve been caught over and over again,” Natalie Horsepool added. “We don’t believe anything they said. And [Hutchison] stood up there and spun the whole thing, over and over again.”

The district said it expects to have budget problems next year, as well.

Hutchison said cuts to special education, electives- even sports and school closures- are possible.
Those topics would require public comment.

FOX4 tried to interview someone with the district before the session and then talk with Hutchison after. Both requests were denied.