- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The Wichita school board has voted to eliminate more than 100 district positions, close a high school and stop bus transportation for thousands of students.

These and other cuts will trim about $18 million from the district’s budget, The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1RbIorN ) reported.

Six board members voted unanimously to approve superintendent John Allison’s first three phases of budget cuts for the upcoming school year. Board member Sheril Logan was absent.

“What I’m coming to is not recommending what’s best for our students or what is educationally sound but what we have to do to keep the doors open and the lights on,” Allison said. “Unless the funding mechanism changes for schools, this is going to continue to be a yearly discussion.”

Allison said the district will need to trim an additional $5 million to make up for projected cost increases.

Wichita schools have projected nearly $23 million in cost increases next year, with revenue under the state’s block grant funding system expected to be flat.

Under the cuts, Metro-Meridian Alternative High School will close and about 65 teacher positions will be eliminated, as well as others who work at alternative education programs. Allison said those employees will have the option of being reassigned elsewhere.

The district will also change start times at five schools, cut back on professional development activities and decrease utility costs.

“All of these budget cuts are tough,” said Mike Rodee, board vice president. “There’s nobody up here that likes it. But we need to look at the people that are doing it to us. Our legislators, our government, our governor - we are the ones who are fighting to keep the schools alive, and they are fighting to close them.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com


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