Wichita school board seeks input on budget cuts

04/02/2011 12:00 AM

04/02/2011 12:49 AM

The Wichita school board will host a public forum Monday to gather input about impending budget cuts and how schools could improve.

The annual "Board Night Out" comes as district leaders face a $30 million budget shortfall that is likely to mean job losses and the elimination of programs and services.

"We want people to come and share their ideas," said board president Connie Dietz. "This is a crucial time for schools."

The forum is 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Southeast High School, 903 S. Edgemoor.

Superintendent John Allison presented a second round of proposed budget cuts this week, which included the elimination of 65 to 70 jobs and $3.6 million from Title 1 funds, which provide services to the district's neediest students.

Earlier this year the board put some construction projects on hold, ended off-campus leases, changed start times at some schools and imposed a one-day furlough for non-teaching staff. Leaders also are considering a plan to replace registered nurses with lower-paid licensed practical nurses in schools.

Teacher pay cuts and a four-day school week are among other proposals being floated as the district begins teacher contract negotiations.

"I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it: Everything is on the table," Allison told a group of students at a school board candidate forum this week.

Discussion Monday will focus on three topics: what the public education system should look like, what schools should do to improve, and what schools should stop doing because it doesn't advance improvement.

Participants will break into small groups for discussion and will share overall ideas and concerns at the end of the meeting. Because turnout is expected to be large, there will not be a town hall-style question-and-answer format, Dietz said.

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