Budget Cuts are Cutting the Wrong People

Budget Cuts are Cutting the Wrong People

Liv Swaney

The budget for the Olathe district 2022-2023 school year has been decreased by more than $20 million. The decline in funding has led to the decline in positions for teachers, and the termination of special education and outreach programs. Reading and Math 180 classes  are targeted classes for children that are in need of extra help with skills such as reading and math comprehension have been cut, as they were deemed “not necessary”.

The people who head the cuts have been quoted to say, “We are making these cuts with the children’s best interest in mind”. This statement is taken as contradictory and in plain terms, false. The programs they are cutting have the sole purpose of extra support to children in need, instead of letting them fall through the cracks and continue to struggle.

Teachers who were formerly employed in those positions have either been moved to teach classes they have never taught or told to find employment elsewhere. If a teacher is not high enough on the totem pole of veteran teachers, their chances of staying employed in the district are slim to none. All teacher’s aid and new candidates have been shot down.

One of the reasons for the budget cuts is the Olathe Virtual School. Originally priced with a budget of $500 thousand, they spent approximately $2.7 million dollars. The district has since ended the school and left over 50 teachers looking for employment in the district. Keep in mind that, allegedly, all cuts are being made with the student’s best interest in mind.

Elementary schools and middle schools are cutting at a minimum of eight teachers and/or faculty per school. Kindergarten aides, secretary aides, resource teachers and paras are the main population suffering as a result of these cuts. People that are crucial to ensuring a safe and positive environment to foster learning, and model classroom behaviors, are being punished as a result of people at the top failing to do their jobs correctly.

A factor that contributes to the cuts is the free and reduced lunches. Pre-Covid families applied for free and reduced lunch, and the Determining Official of the Free and Reduced Lunch program sends in applications to the state, so the school receives funding for those individuals. Due to COVID, a government program gave free lunch to all Olathe schools from 2020-2022 school years. People did not sign up for free and reduced lunch because of the government-funded program, and the district lost the funds because of the decrease.

An additional factor was the decrease in enrollment. The enrollment rate dropped 3.5%, according to the Olathe district budget release, for the 2022-2023 school year. Due to this drop, the district decided to have a 6% decrease in the annual operations budget for the upcoming school year, according to the budget release from the Olathe District.

Finally, the extraordinary growth fund we have been supplemented with for the past decades has been cut in the 2021 school year. Our growth rate dropped 1.7%, and our funding is predicted to drop by $7 million dollars for the next school year.

Budget cuts across the board have been harming, not helping, future students in the Olathe district. Teachers and students alike are feeling the pressure from the uncertainty of the position, and the quality of their education for the years to come.