Updated: Sep 4
It’s important to understand the BV School Board’s role when evaluating candidate claims about what they *will do* if elected. It’s also crucial to know what our board canNOT do, and should not do. For example, the Kansas Legislature is responsible for allocating operating funds to pay teachers and staff - including paras, school secretaries, counselors, and nurses. The board does NOT determine the amount of state dollars allocated to our district.
The School Board does NOT determine Operational Funding. The school district’s day-to-day Operational funding is set by the Kansas Legislature. Per-pupil funds, allocated by the legislature, is what pays staff, including teachers. The School Board canNOT increase the amount of money available to hire more teachers, NOR can they shift funds from Capital Outlay or Bond funds to cover salaries. If a School Board candidate is campaigning on reducing class sizes or paying teachers more - that candidate is lying to you. The School Board does determine what Bond rates to ask voters to approve (used for new buildings and improvements to facilities), and sets mill levy rates for local funding contributions (a certain percentage of funding is allowed by the legislature to be approved locally). But these funds are “siloed” and cannot be moved into operating funds.
One of Stand Up Blue Valley’s primary objectives is to elect legislators who will adequately fund our schools - so Blue Valley CAN reduce class sizes where needed. After years of underfunding by the Brownback experiment, and with Special Education costs still not adequately funded (and districts making up the difference), there’s still ground to make up on funding from the KsLeg. If you want to pay teachers more and have smaller class sizes (doesn’t everyone?), make sure your Kansas legislators know this.
The School Board should not Micromanage. School Board members aren’t meant to be teachers, administrators, or education specialists. That’s not their function. In general, Boards take the 10,000-foot view and leave the experts to teach and administer. The School Board should regularly review and set expectations for performance, but should not dictate to trained, professional educators how to do their jobs.
School Board members should not be political. By design, School Boards (along with other local government offices) are NONpartisan. They don’t take orders from any political party; they don’t subscribe to party ideology in relation to their board service; they don’t promote political ideology. They put students above politics and focus on building a collaborative community, not a divisive one. School Boards need independent thinkers. Anything else is not in the best interests of our kids and their schools.
As you evaluate candidates for School Board, and before you vote, it’s important to know the difference between what School Board members can - and cannot - do.