CHEROKEE — Southeast USD 247 learned their application requesting $383,281 in Extraordinary Needs State Aid has been granted in full.
The Extraordinary Needs State Aid is for school districts with declining enrollments.
Lawmakers authorized the Kansas State Board of Education to receive applications for the aid in the amount of $2,593,452 for schools with declining enrollments across the state.
Southeast USD 247 Superintendent Dr. Brad Miner said the district’s enrollment declined since the school finance law, which returns to a per-pupil formula rather than a block grant, was put in place.
“The Block Grant was the funding mechanism for the past two years,” he said. “It froze funding for schools — there were no increases or decreases in funding, basically receiving the same thing as years before.”
According to Miner, schools with declining or smaller enrollment benefitted from the block grant, but larger and growing districts suffered as they had more students, but the same amount of money.
According to a release, since the 2014-15 school year, the district had a decline in enrollment of approximately 100 students. Along with increased health insurance premiums, the loss of funding totals over $700,000, which forced the district to make reductions for the 2017-2018 school year.
Miner said the legislators realized schools with declining enrollment will take a pretty big cut — therefore applications for aid were placed in the formula for those school districts.
The aid will allow the district to bring back three paraeducators and a school resource officer along with programs to support student success within the school — including early childhood programs, funds for national competitions, technology and professional development.
“We reduced seven paras for this upcoming year,” Miner said. “This money will allow us to hire three paras back and a school resource officer for the year if available.”
According to the release, Miner said the district is not looking to bring back classroom teachers because of enrollment size.
Miner said the money will help bridge the gap as funding levels out with the new formula.
“We have a great school district, it's just becoming smaller,” he said. “Things will level out for us.
“We are happy to have funds to do things we thought we wouldn’t be able to do.”
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.