Kansas governor cites school's $47K piano in announcing cuts - KCTV5

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Kansas governor cites school's $47K piano in announcing cuts

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TOPEKA, KS (KCTV/AP) -

Gov. Sam Brownback says a high school's purchase of a new grand piano illustrates that Kansas' formula for funding its public schools is flawed.

The Republican governor on Thursday mentioned the new piano at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kansas, in announcing plans to cut $28 million in aid to public schools from the current budget.

The local school board purchased the piano last month for more than $47,000. The Kansas City district says it replaced an aging instrument to help students pursuing careers in music and preparing to audition for scholarships.

Brownback said in a statement that the money should have been used to hire another teacher and reduce class sizes.

The district noted it used capital outlay funds, which by law can't be spent on salaries.

Schools across Kansas are scrambling after finding out they're going to get far less money than expected from the state.

While the third grade class at Sunset Ridge Elementary School wrestled with fractions, their superintendent pondered a different kind of math problem - how to spend $1.2 million less.

That's the challenge facing the Blue Valley School District in the wake of Brownback's announcement of additional cuts to Kansas schools.

"We will try extremely hard not to let this impact the classroom for the current school year," Blue Valley Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg said.

He thinks negative impact can be avoided by dipping into the district's reserve fund and delaying some purchases.

Trigg worries more about a proposal circulating in the Legislature would mean $3.3 million of additional cuts to Blue Valley. He said if it goes through, some of the pain could be felt in the classroom come next fall.

"All of the low hanging fruit really has been reduced," Trigg said, referring to previous rounds of cuts, "It will be really difficult to keep future cuts away from the classroom."

The Olathe School District is losing $1.5 million and Shawnee Mission School District also loses nearly that much. The De Soto School District is losing nearly $350,000.

The cuts also hit higher education. Statewide the system would lose $16 million. Many predict the next shoe to drop will be an announcement of tuition increases.

A petition has been created on MoveOn.org to recall Brownback. As of 2 p.m. Saturday it had over 24,500 signatures. Click here to view and/or sign it. 

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