The matter of a possible upcoming attempt by the state Legislature to trim the budget deficit came to the forefront of a discussion for the Hays USD 489 Board of Education on Monday at its work session in the Rockwell Administrative Building.
On Thursday, legislators talked about a possible $127 million cut that could happen before the end of the school year. With that possibility, USD 489 Superintendent John Thissen told board members that could equate to approximately $680,000 for the Hays district.
The issue from Thissen’s standpoint, or at least one of them, is two weeks ago, the BOE approved 5-1 to hire Performance Solutions from Wichita as the district’s Facility Improvement Planner. The matter now is whether to consider holding off on the service contract for a bit.
USD 489 has $330,000 in its contingency plan, but Thissen isn’t eager to go down that road.
“I think it’s probable there will still be a cut,” Thissen told the board members. “After last week, after paying attention to what they put out, it doesn’t look like it will be $127 million, which is $680,000 for us, but it is probable. There could still be a cut before the end of the year, which makes this very difficult for me to recommend purchases the rest of the year.”
Thissen did speak with school district attorney Bill Jeter earlier Monday about the possible cuts. Jeter, who was not at the board meeting, told Thissen, according to the superintendent, he heard there was a proposal that would not cut school funding at all for this year.
“I don’t know the details of the one (Jeter) was describing,” Thissen said.
“I did have Mr. Jeter come over and we talked about this, and he made it very clear that the work that went into this process, because there was work, time and money that went into this, it does not have to go to the side. It’s a service contract that can sit there three months. It can sit there six months. It can go into the next school year. It’s not a matter of anything that has to do with start over again when you’re talking about this.”
Thissen explained if cuts are to happen, it could take place at any time before the end of the school year.
“I’d like to say (the cuts) aren’t going to happen,” Thissen said. “There’s no way they’re going to cut the budget with only four months of school. There’s no way. Although, they’ve done it in the last nine years three other times. So I guess there are odds, that yeah, it’s possible.”
The BOE didn’t need to make a decision Monday on the issue.
In other business, the board:
• Heard from Donna Hudson-Hamilton, director of Early Childhood Connections, on training provided to the board regarding the district’s Head Start programs.
• Discussed recommendation policy changes for, administrative contracts, collection procedures, food service management and board negotiating agents.
• Heard the financial report on update of the district’s finances from Tracy Kaiser, executive director of finance and support services.