School board talks redistricting and state funding

By Bryan Richardson

The USD 383 Board of Education spent its last meeting of 2011 Wednesday addressing three topics that will impact the district in 2012 — redistricting, the school finance formula and Fort Riley.

Associate Supt. Bob Seymour updated board members on the most recent redistricting meeting. The district’s lines are being redrawn for the 2012-13 school year in order to bring more students to Lee Elementary, which has expanded its main building capacity by 315 students.

Parents have indicated that Map Q1 is a favorite because it has the fewest number of students moving. Seymour said early indicators from redistricting committee members’ rankings show they also think highly of the plan.

That map calls for the following neighborhoods to be assigned to each school (with additions in parenthesis):

Amanda Arnold: Arbor, Cico Park, Claflin West, Lee Mill, Miller Ranch, S Anderson, Sharingbrook, West Kimball, West Bank.

Bluemont: Blue River, Bluehills, Bluemont N, Flinthills, Tuttle Cove (Deep Creek North, Deep Creek South, Dempsey, Fairmont, KS-177, KS-177 South, Lafayette, Lake Elbo, McDowell Creek, Military Trail, Moritz, Pillsbury Crossing, US-24 North, US-24 South, Zeandale).

Frank Bergman: Candlewood, Cedar Creek, Colbert Hills, Ft. Riley South, Little Kitten North, Manhattan Ave. South, Marlatt West, Redbud, Riverchase, Tuttle Creek Blvd. West (Amherst).

Lee: College Heights, Garden Way, Grandview, Jardine, Rocky Ford, Scenic Dr. E, Valleywood, West Anderson, Westwood (Brookville, Colonial Gardens, Country Meadows, Pebblebrook).

Marlatt: Browning S, Hillview, Meadowood, Rogers, Sargent, Seaton, Seth Child North, Tatarrax (Tuttle Creek Blvd.).

Northview: Blue Valley, Butterfield, Dix, Knox, Nelson’s Landing, Northview

Ogden: Airport, Eureka, Ogden, Random Woods (K-18 South, Sunrise West).

Theodore Roosevelt: Poyntz West, Stagg Hill East, Stagg Hill West.

Woodrow Wilson: Downtown, Green Valley N, Green Valley S, Timber Creek, Timber Creek East.

Board vice-president Dave Colburn and board member Walt Pesaresi, representatives of the board at the redistricting meetings, called it the closest plan to being ready for adopting of all the alternatives.

School finance formula

Board members took time during the meeting to make their first public comments since Gov. Sam Brownback released details of his plan to reform the school finance formula.

Board member Curt Herrman said there might be some good points, but he had concern about the lack of structure for the money without the weightings that are contained in the current formula. He said some districts could take the money from an area such as special education to catch up with technologies.

“In my mind, I think the weightings served a pretty good purpose as far as making sure the right programs get money,” he said.

Board president Doug Messer said he found it interesting that Brownback is now open to suggestions about the proposal. “Apparently they don’t even believe their own plan is strong enough,” he said.

Brownback has asserted that the current formula is broken.

But Messer said lawsuits proposed by some districts could be avoided by placing the necessary money into the current formula.

“Nobody seems to get it through (Brownback’s) head that the formula works if you fund it,” he said. “It’s not broken. The broken part is the funding.”

Board member Pete Paukstelis said the proposal doesn’t address the lawsuit’s contentions that the poorest districts are subsidized by the state, the rich districts can levy taxes to levy what they want and the middle districts don’t have the ability to do either.

“This does it even worse than the current formula,” he said. “Another thing it doesn’t really focus on is which students need the most help, which is generally students from low socio-economic backgrounds.”


Fort Riley

The board received an update about Fort Riley and the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The next BRAC is expected to occur in 2015, based on the recommendation from the 2005 BRAC commission.

John Armbrust, executive director of the Kansas Governor’s Military Council, said he’s confident Fort Riley will be safe from closure due to its cost effectiveness.

“I believe one of the largest criteria will be how cost-effective is that installation,” he said. “We’ve done well in the past.”

Board member Darell Edie wondered if the school finance formula would factor into the equation and potentially help or harm what will happen at Fort Riley.

Armbrust said officials are probably aware, but he wasn’t sure how much stock is placed on something of that nature during BRAC.

“I think people are watching it, but I don’t think they’re analyzing it with pluses or minuses,” he said.

Armbrust said a better indicator of how things might change is coming in February when next year’s budget for the Army would be seen, including where the budget reductions are occurring. “It’ll start to tell us which direction the Army is going,” he said.

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