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Cuts to Instruction as Building Continues in the Shawnee Mission School District

Monday evening, Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Gene Johnson will present a budget to the board of education with a general fund at least $5 million leaner than last year’s.

Instruction will take the largest percentage of cuts in the general fund. The largest percentage of instructional savings will come from driver’s education, while the largest dollar amount will come from the special education budget. Other instructional programs cut include bilingual education, vocational education and the night school program that helps students gain enough credits to graduate. Instructional expenses account for the largest percentage of the district’s general funds.

Millions of dollars worth of building and construction continue, although the district will be cutting millions of dollars from instruction. Significant projects include an all-new Apache Elementary School in addition to renovation work at seven other elementary schools. Also, three of five middle schools and half of the high schools are undergoing renovation.

The Apache building project alone totals more than $13 million, but the district is unable to transfer money from building to instructional funds. According to state law, the two funds may not be mixed, Superintendent Johnson wrote in this summer’s edition of the Inside Shawnee Mission Schools newsletter.

Another budget line item the district cannot cut is bond debt, which totals more than $222 million.

Over the last two years, the district has cut more than $20 million from its budget due to decreased state tax revenues.

Despite cutbacks, the district ended the last fiscal year with more money than expected in its operations budget, according to Tim Rooney, the district’s budget and finance manager. He presented a year-end financial summary last month to the board of education. According to Rooney, the district was able to save more than $5 million by rerouting school buses more efficiently, spending less than allotted to building and department budgets and by conserving utilities.

The budget hearing will top the agenda of the school board’s regular monthly meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, August 8, at the McEachen Administrative Center, 7235 Antioch, in Shawnee Mission, Kan.

About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.


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