Gov. Sam Brownback announced additional allotments on Thursday to address a projected budget shortfall as a result of lower-than-expected sales tax revenue. The allotments of two percent of the Regents system and 1.5 percent for K-12 funding will save $44.5 million for the state general fund.
The savings to the state budget will come at a high cost to students in the Emporia area. Emporia State University, Flint Hills Technical College and USD 253 all face large mid-year cuts as a result of the allotments.
“Hopefully we can keep it from impacting students,” said Dean Hollenbeck, FHTC president. “When you take hit after hit it starts affecting programing and quality of teachers which, ultimately, you have to look at all of that ... and it impacts the students.”
The financial hits are plentiful to all educational institutions in Emporia. Theresa Davidson, Emporia School District superintendent says the district will have a roughly $268,000 cut this year and is likely facing additional cuts in the near future.
“This is effective right now, for the 2014-2015 school year,” said Davidson. “It reduces the base state aid per pupil from $3,852 to $3,810.25.”
Davidson says the district has been preparing for financial cuts and exploring possibilities since the beginning of the school year.
“We have been looking at ways and trying to see what we could do to weather any storm that came our way,” said Davidson. “We have already been doing that for most of the year, so we will continue to fine tune that.”
Davidson said the district will have to look at all areas of expenses and determine what they can do to reduce those costs.
“We may have to discontinue spending on some things we would normally purchase in the spring,” said Davidson. “We will take a look at all of that.”
The two-percent reduction in the Regents system translates to a loss of approximately $632,000 for ESU. ESU President Michael Shonrock was meeting with all of the vice presidents on Thursday afternoon following the allotment announcements to explore options for handling the reduction.
“It is our job to ensure that it will not adversely impact our mission as an institution,” said Gwen Larson, assistant director of marketing and media relations with ESU. “We will find out more going forward. The Kansas Board of Regents meetings are next week and this will be a topic of conversation.”
Administrators are busy at all area educational institutions as they attempt to make sense of the cuts and find alternatives to address the holes in their budgets. Many of them are also bracing for the possibility of additional financial cuts in the coming months.
“Right now we don’t know if that’s the end of it,” said Davidson. “There are several bills that have been introduced that would also affect our budget as early as this year.”
USD 253: $268,000