School cuts may hit textbooks, trips

Elementary students may take fewer field trips, custodians would spend less time cleaning schools and all students would work with older technology and textbooks in recommended cuts by Wichita school leaders.

The school board is set to discuss the $4.2 million in cuts at its Monday night board meeting. Members will be updated on ways to fill an estimated $25 million shortfall next school year.

The board would vote to officially approve the cuts when it approves next school year's budget in August.

"There is absolutely nothing on this list that doesn't have a value," Wichita superintendent John Allison said in a news release.

"We have to start making cuts now because we don't know what our final cut target will be from the Kansas legislature."

The cuts include the $2.5 million in transportation savings from adjusting start times at eight schools that were announced last week.

Other cuts announced Thursday are:

* Reduce overtime work by custodians by 50 percent, saving $1.5 million.

* Reduce district-supported field trip transportation by 80 percent at the elementary school level, saving $100,000. This means students' families would have to chip in more for trips.

* Districtwide winter shutdown Dec. 23 to Jan. 2, saving $120,000. School buildings have been open three days during that week to allow for school activities and teacher planning.

* Delay purchase of textbooks, saving $1 million.

* Extend the 5-year technology replacement plan to 6 years, saving $500,000.

* Eliminate remaining four middle school resource officers, saving the district $232,710.

* Reduce meeting, conference and workshop expenses by $365,968. Employees would have to pay more out of their own pockets to attend.

* Reduce mileage reimbursement rate from $.505 to $.25, saving $300,000.

* Suspend new appointments to the Grow Your Own Teacher program, saving $50,000. Current participants who receive assistance from the district in earning a degree in education would continue.