The Kansas National Education Association has offered guidance to education leaders to concerns about schools closing and district funds running out this summer because of funding problems.
“We expect the Kansas legislature to act responsibly and ensure that public schools open their doors on time next school year,” KNEA officials said in a recent communication to districts. “We must believe that even the most extreme ideologues would realize the harm that inaction would inflict on the people of Kansas. Any school closure would have deep and lasting impacts.”
That statement reinforces comments made on Tuesday by Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Jim Hinson who said if Kansas school funding problems lead to school closures it would be an economic “nightmare,” for the state.
The KNEA represents 25,000 educators in Kansas. In its guidance, the organization said public schools account for as much as 25 percent of the payroll in local economies.
“Our position is that it is completely incomprehensible that the state legislature would not do its job,” said Marcus Baltzell, KNEA spokesman. “That is our expectation.”
And working off the KNEA guidance, the Blue Valley NEA chapter issued a memo to its teachers in an effort to dispel rumors about the fate of Kansas school funding. Here are excerpts from the memo, which was obtained by The Star:
Rumor: “I should take my summer pay in a lump sum because the district may run out of money to pay us.” UNTRUE.
“Funds for the 2015-16 school year have been allocated. You will be paid the full amount of your pay for this year whether you choose to be paid throughout the summer or in two lump sums. The lump sum payment option is part of our negotiated agreement. The district sends an email outlining your payment options each spring prior to April 1. BVNEA recommends analyzing your situation, practicing sound management of your finances, and choosing the option best for you.... If it is better for your budgeting purposes to be paid on a regular basis, choose the option of regular payments throughout the summer.”
Rumor: “Kansas schools will not open in August for the 2016-17 year.” NOT LIKELY.
“There is a lot of talk, but everything is speculation at this point. BVNEA, KNEA, and the Blue Valley School District keep a close eye on all legislative matters related to education. We expect the Kansas Legislature to act responsibly and ensure that public schools have the funding necessary to open their doors on time next school year. This is an election year, which makes it even more unlikely that schools would not open on time. No one running for reelection would want to face the wrath of a state full of angry parents!”
Rumor: “We might not know if we even have jobs until July.” UNTRUE
“Kansas school districts must inform any teacher who will not have a position for the following year by the third Friday of May, May 20 this year. Teachers have 14 days following that date to let the district know if they are resigning. If a teacher does not resign in writing by June 3, 2016, he/she is under continuing contract for the next year.”