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BOE ends ties to fair funding group





Hays USD 489 Board of Education members went against administrators’ recommendation and voted Monday night to discontinue its membership in the Schools for Fair Funding organization.

The school district was a charter member of the organization.

“We’ve belonged to that organization since 1989, and you can see, we’ve paid a total of $426,000 in membership fees,” Superintendent Will Roth said.

USD 489 was assessed $9,815.40 for base membership and $8,272.98 for litigation support for FY2014.

More than 50 school districts belong to the organization.

It’s helped increase base state aid per pupil and lower local mill levies, Roth said.

“The payoff from this group has been good,” he said. “I believe we need to continue to have a voice with that group.”

Board member Darren Schumacher said he understands what the organization has done, but the district will benefit whether it pays dues or not.

“We’ve certainly done our part being a member since 1989,” he said.

Lance Bickle made the motion not to belong to the organization since the district isn’t “seeing any real clear benefit out of paying this, or getting any additional money back out of having done this.”

A domino effect could begin, and “pretty soon there is no SFF organization, and nobody is going to benefit,” Richard Cain, deputy superintendent, said in defending the administration’s view.

“What I have a problem with is using taxpayers’ money to sue taxpayers,” Marty Patterson said.

The motion not to belong to the fair funding organization passed unanimously.

The board did vote to renew membership in the Kansas Association of School Boards for $11,495 and the KASB legal assistance fund membership for $1,650.

Schumacher and Greg Schwartz will continue to lead the board in the coming year, but their offices will be reversed.

Schwartz will serve as president of the board, and Schumacher vice president.

“With the resignation of the superintendent and changes that go along with that … I think he would be well suited to do that,” Schwartz said in nominating Schumacher.

The board entered into three executive sessions with Roth and board attorney Bill Jeter totaling more than two hours, but no action was taken following the final session.

In other business, the board:

• Added new members to the board in Bickle, Josh Waddell and Danielle Robben.

• Accepted the low bid from Astra Bank for 1 percent interest on no fund warrants to buy textbooks.

• Accepted resignations from Jerald Braun, Hays Middle School teacher; Erica Wisehart, Early Childhood Connections teacher/family assistant; and Kristen Osborne, O’Loughlin special ed para.

• Approved retirement for Superintendent Will Roth; and maternity leave for Naomi Dinkel, Victoria special ed.

• Approved provisional employment for Jessica Ammel, Hays High part-time foreign language teacher; and Emily Braun, Washington Elementary/Victoria special ed teacher.