School funding – Statistics released last week by the Kansas State Department of Education offer a clear picture of at least one effect of recent state funding cuts for public schools. While the number of students enrolled in Kansas schools rose by 9,701 this year, the total of all certified personnel working with those students declined by 277. Of those, 256 were classroom teachers. Funding for public schools is a matter of priorities. There is no higher priority than recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and giving them classes that are small enough to manage and teach effectively. In the past four years, per-pupil state funding for public schools has declined by about 14 percent, from $4,400 per student to $3,780. Districts have cut the fat in their budgets and then some. It’s time to correct this dangerous trend.
KPERS – Given the dire straits of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, lawmakers should show some restraint when it comes to their own benefits. They work about 90 days a year and receive a biweekly stipend of $354.15 when they are out of session. This amounts to just over $19,000. For retirement purposes, however, their income is calculated as if the daily stipend were paid every day of the year. This balloons their compensation for KPERS considerations to $85,820 a year. No other type of Kansas public employee enjoys this privilege. If we want citizen legislators in Kansas, and we do, let’s stop allowing them quietly to treat themselves like professionals.
Winfield Daily Courier
Kobach – Kansas ought to have a law that prevents statewide elected officeholders from doing outside consulting work. Secretary of State Kris Kobach remains one of the worst offenders when it comes to padding his bank account with consultant fees, in his case for anti-immigration work. Kobach, unlike part-time state lawmakers who out of necessity hold other jobs or own businesses, was elected to a full-time position and is paid a generous annual salary of $86,003. Yet he continues to devote time to his pet project – helping other states fashion anti-immigration legislation.
Missouri – Hooray for University of Kansas basketball coach Bill Self for making it crystal clear the vast majority of Jayhawk fans are not going to shed any tears over the University of Missouri’s departure from the Big 12 Conference to join the Southeastern Conference. It would be nice if other KU officials had the courage and conviction to speak out with Self’s clarity, rather than trying to couch their reaction to MU’s snub of the Big 12 with nicey-nice politically correct statements.
Air service – Garden City Regional Airport looks to be a step closer to a development important to the flying public and region as a whole. The encouraging news came with a report of the U.S. Department of Transportation issuing a tentative order to select American Eagle Airlines as the federally subsidized air-service provider between Garden City and Dallas. The plan pursued by local officials would enhance commercial air travel for the area through addition of service between Garden City and Dallas on a 44-seat jet, which would replace current Great Lakes Airlines service on 19-seat turboprop aircraft. The plan taking flight locally not only would enhance service, but also preserve what the region already has to offer in flights to other destinations. At a time there was much to lose, the region should celebrate such a significant gain.
Garden City Telegram