- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - At least two school superintendents who are among several seeking supplemental state funding have responded to lawmakers’ request to outline how they’re saving money.

Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, and the GOP chairmen of both chambers’ budget committees sent a letter this week to superintendents of 38 districts filing applications seeking about $15 million in additional aid under an education funding law enacted this year. The law set aside $12.3 million to address extraordinary needs during the current school year.

The law leaves decisions about what districts receive to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the top eight leaders of GOP-dominated Legislature. They plan to meet Monday at the Statehouse to review the applications.

Each superintendent was asked in the letter to document five examples of the district adopting innovative strategies during the past three years to improve classroom performance. Documents are due by close of business Friday.

Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr., an Olathe Republican and chairman of the House budget committee, said the process could help provide good ideas for saving tax dollars.

Superintendent Robert Shannon, the top administrator in the Manhattan-Ogden district, said the district was justified in making an appeal for $400,000 to address enrollment growth after cutting cash reserves, raising property taxes and slicing expenditures for personnel and supplies by $1 million, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1NIAMNS ).

Jeff Bollinger, the superintendent in Satanta in southwest Kansas, says the district had to respond to a steep drop in the property valuations, which affects school funding, by requesting $485,000. He said that district is saving money by using iPads rather than traditional textbooks for students in sixth through 12th grades to study language arts, science and social studies.

“The digital materials are a far greater cost savings than printed,” he said.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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