PITTSBURG — School districts can be affected by the 2020 census count.

During a USD 250 School Board meeting on March 9, the district talked about encouraging the public to fill out census forms.

“One of the things that was very important to me is that there is a significant amount of funding that can be lost in a community, whether it be our county or whether it be the city of Pittsburg, for every person not counted in the census,” USD 250 Superintendent of Schools Richard Proffitt said, “and there are a lot of people who will not fill out information for the census unfortunately because they look at it as it’s gathering information on ages, people in the family, the number of people that are in the home, different things like that.”

The census is a way to get a “good count,” it’s not to spy on anyone, Proffitt said, adding that the information filled out is saved for over 70 years.

“As we see a lot of our population shift going up to the Johnson County area, surrounding areas, it's very important that as we continue to grow and thrive that we get not only our representation down here but we also get the funds to go with it so that we can have services that are important to all of our citizens,” Proffitt said.

During the meeting — which was before the coronavirus outbreak was confirmed to have reached the area — the district had plans to work with the City of Pittsburg after spring break to educate students on the census. It’s unclear as of Wednesday if the plans are still in place or postponed because of the virus situation.

“We have been working with a leadership group that is going to help us out at the high school,” Proffitt said at the meeting. “The city is putting a big push to bring our resources together so we can go out and communicate with our students, because that’s civic engagement, that’s a good part in educating them and take the message home so that we can get a true count of the people who are in our community.”

USD 250 School Board President Micky Painter read from a section in the Kansas School Board Magazine during the school board meeting.

“You may have read this, but I just wanted to share with the public that ensuring each Kansans’ counts holds significance for everyone in Kansas but especially Kansas schools as 2020 census counts affect federal funding for many of our programs like school breakfast and lunch programs,” he read. “These counts affect federal funding for the next 10 years for Kansas schools, communities and our state.

“So let’s make sure every person is counted, ensuring that our youngest Kansans, those aged 0 are 5, are counted, but their families are essential when it comes to federal and early childhood program funding.”

According to the magazine Painter read, an estimated 10 percent of children aged 0 to 5 were missed in 2010 — more than in other populations.

Other groups of “hard-to-reach Kansans” include “students in poverty, diverse populations, migrant and immigrant students, non-English-speaking students, homeless students, disabled students and highly mobile students,” Painter read. “Many of these populations and groups may fear retribution or have distrust with their information, but it will be kept confidential as Richard was assuring.”

People can complete their census form online, by mail or by phone. Reminders should have been sent out starting between March 12 and March 20. Frequently asked questions can be found online at https://bit.ly/2URHM6l