USD 489 board opts to increase three fees, changes bus routes

Hays Post

After a lengthy discussion Monday, the USD 489 Board of Education passed three fee increases and reduced bus routes — moves expected to add approximately $308,000 to $312,000 into the district’s strapped budget.

The district, which already has made the procedural moves necessary to cut staff next year, is facing more than a $1 million budget shortfall in 2014-15.

The board voted to increase the activity fee at Hays Middle School and Hays High School $50, which would be “a one-time fee, per student,” according to board President Greg Schwartz.

The board voted the fee would be imposed for one the 2014-15 school year only, with additional action needed to make the increase applicable into the future.

The fee increase means HMS students will be charged $62 per year, compared to the current $12 fee, and HHS school students will pay $66 per year compared to the current $16 activity fee.

The school board also passed a workbook/materials fee increase of $60 and added a $150 kindergarten fee.

The kindergarten fee previously proposed at $400 garnered the most debate among school board members with Schwartz, James Leiker and Marty Patterson voting against all proposed fee increases to kindergarten.

Schwartz said he was thought it was wrong to “single out one grade and one that is the most important.”

“Kindergarten is very important,” said board member James Leiker, noting first-grade teachers “notice a difference” when comparing students who attended kindergarten to those who did not regarding readiness to learn and increased social skills.

Commissioners also voted to only bus rural students and and those who live more than 2.5 miles from the attending school.

Commissioners agreed the financial situation and the fee increases could changed if the Local Option Budget election to increase the LOB from 30 percent to 31 percent passes in June, the district’s financial situation would changed and the fees could be decreased.

“When you look at all the fees initiated here, I look at that and, in the back of my head, I think this is supposed to be a public education” said Leiker said. “I don’t like the fees. We need to look harder at decreasing (the fees) before Aug. 1.”

Related story: USD 489’s statement on transportation, fees.






  • concerned parent

    Workbook/material fees…what a joke! We as parents already provide most of the materials for the classrooms and if we don’t the teachers pay for it out of pocket. This is outrageous, as a parent of three making a middle class wage, they better expect to take payments. It’s no problem for the people making 50-80 grand a year. The bus is the only way for some people to get their kids home from school. Not everybody can just leave work or have someone else chauffeur their kid around.
    Parent considering Catholic school now, where at least you can tithe.

  • Where are the priorities?

    I can’t believe sports were not mentioned at all. I have several kids in school and now face several different required fees that all add up. Sports are not required and my kids can chose if they want to do those. When will the board understand this? Education should be funded first. Sports last.

    • T. Jenson

      From what I understand Administration/Salary cuts and Sports will be on the next agenda.

      • Falling IQ

        Even if that is true, sports cuts and pay to play should be discussed first. It’s like the cart before the horse saying-we should be taking care of education first. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if at the next meeting, they vote to add in 6th grade sports since they got 7th grade added in last year. Hays residents are fed up with taxes, the board wants to add to those taxes, yet can’t seem to put some restrictions on extra spending. Sports are not required and are not necessary for a child to graduate and get a job. Why are we funding this especially at this point in time when money is just not there?

        • hays is no good

          I’m wondering why they have so many teachers in one classroom. How about they cut that out instead of increasing kindergarten that is just dumb. Hays just keeps finding more ways to running people out of town.

          • Parent

            Where did you get that? It’s only ONE teacher per classroom. Some classrooms have a para (no college degree required to be one). Some para’s are shared between classrooms due to lack of funding.

        • #Incredible

          You are so fucking ignorant. But please continue to argue on here as to increase ad revenue for this pathetic excuse for “journalism”.

    • Priority

      Did you not read this? What do you think the activity fee is?

      • Info

        It’s not a pay to play sports fee. It’s an activity fee ALL students pay, even if you don’t go out for anything.

  • Disturbed

    I wonder what the district is going to do when parents cant afford to send their kids school. This is getting ridiculous!

    • Bleh

      I agree!!! At least they can play their beloved sports though!

  • bonner

    the board mentioned the fees could be taken away and re-hire of fired teachers if the LOB passes. scare tactics folks. they can’t do all of that with $200,000 the LOB will raise. why don’t they take out of next years budget 7th grade sports and instead of firing teachers fire some administrative positions. then tell the rest of the high priced administrative positions–including the dean-o–to take a 10% cut in pay. then the taxpayers won’t have to cough up more money they will waste from the LOB. TAXPAYERS–VOTE NO!!!

    • School 101

      Oh, but we just can’t take out 7th grade sports. Are you crazy for even suggesting it? Our intelligent board members would never see the logic in that. Our kids just have to have sports. Why would you even think for a second that classes and teachers should be above 7th grade sports? Geez.

      • Upset Parent

        Oh, and don’t forget 8th grade tennis they also added, they kinda failed to mention that. Just goes to show, we don’t know the entire story to the short fall……MY VOTE IS NO!!!

        • Listen up

          To eliminate 7th grade sports will also eliminate 8th grade sports. Have you been under a rock the past month? All of the middle school sports are part of a league contract and we must follow through or we will not have a league to participate in and the smaller surrounding districts won’t play us. That was all stated weeks ago at a work session. Know the facts before spouting jibberish opinions that have no validity…PLEASE!

          • School 101

            We got along all these years without 7th grade sports! If other schools won’t play us without it, then so be it. If 7th grade sports and a ‘league’ are so important, then make all those in middle school sports pay to support it. Pay to play baby. Not taxpayers pay so you can play!

          • Listen up

            Again, the 7th grade sports is tied to 8th grade…all or none. Sports will always be a part of public education. The pay to play will come but not as a replacement for the district’s contribution, the pay to play will actually be in addition to tax dollars. Sports are actually the most underfunded whether you agree or not. They are very important to the student body and deserve more respect then what most people on here say. Programs are all in tact for next year, except for middle school Spanish/Rosetta Stone. What’s your real issue?

          • Too much in taxes!

            My vote is NONE then if you are giving me an ultimatum.

          • Upset Parent

            So are you saying 8th grade tennis was not a sport added this year? Because at the parent meeting we were told it was new this year and that is why we were not able to host a meet here. So it was pretty much validated in my opinion, when we were told it was NEW THIS YEAR!!! My point I am trying to make here is we also added some 8th grade stuff that was really unnecessary. I never said to eliminate sports, it’s so funny that when a logical point is made about sports, certain people reading it thinks we just want to get rid of them all, that is so not the case!!!!

          • Listen up

            We had to! We were given a year or two to get all sports added. Tennis was the last stage. You didn’t make a logical point because you don’t understand the middle school arrangement/contract. Tennis had to be added or else we would be excluded. You really think someone just woke up one day and said hey, let’s add middle school tennis??? Ask questions, it will help you!

          • Upset Parent

            I very much so understand agreements/contracts. I am sorry that since I do not agree with you that you think I don’t. Since you know so much, why didn’t we get to host a meet or two, that sounds like a great league to be in. They demand you must add the sport, but all the meets are held 2 1/2 hours away. Great Choice there!!!! Oh and I also understand School Finance Budget and If you don’t have the cash you don’t have the authority to spend it! Plain and Simple!!!! :)

      • Funny

        See the comment below regarding middle school sports. What do you think of your ill guided sarcasm now. Hey, try this on for size…pay attention to how things work so you don’t make any further mistakes. Oh, wait, I’m sure your correct, those sports are evil and should just be cut becuz less then 1% of the community is actually under the belief that it’s unnecessary and would have no effect on anything!

    • Think it through

      Are you serious? Do you even know what’s going on or do you just get small pieces of info and twist them for fun? At the meeting last night the school board reduced the deficit enough to bring back the 3 elementary school teachers. Now class sizes will not increase. The fees that were increased last night would be reduced/eliminated if the LOB passes. What scare tactics?? Three teaching spots were saved and if parents don’t want to pay the new fees then VOTE YES on the LOB and pay a very small increase on property taxes. Average property tax increase will be less then $20/year!

  • chopper

    Finally they looked at the bus routes and have decided to cut the waste out of that budget. what’s taken you board members so long. now start cutting some administrative salaries. i agree with others i’ve talked too. until this board gets this wasteful spending under control I VOTE NO!

  • sportsguy

    so the push is pay to play?? then only those kids whose parents that have money will play sports. is that correct? so the hispanic or white kid from the mobile home park who happens to have an outstanding sports talent can’t play because his parents can’t afford it. is that how it will play out??

    • other shoe

      Pay to play is not a bad idea. People who believe there is a serious need for sports can donate to a scholarship fund to provide for good athletes. There are quite a few schools doing this but not advertising it. Good athletes are “funded” to come play at a school in hopes of being spotted by college scouts.

      • jumper

        in pay to play does every member of the team get to play? how does that work?

  • passin_threw

    Have all of you save education/get rid of sports people ever realized that GPA’s of student athletes are higher when those kids are participating than when they aren’t playing? Isn’t that a value to those students getting a good education? Just because your kids don’t benefit from sports doesn’t mean it doesn’t help some get thru school. If it helps just one kid succeed isn’t it worth it?

    • Common sense

      It doesn’t help though if you are firing teachers by the dozen, cutting classes offered (like Spanish for example), decreasing teacher supply budgets, increasing class size to almost 30, and increasing the costs to enroll a child. Plus….no one said get rid of sports. We are saying make it break even instead of COSTING US 1/2 a million! Why should the taxpayers pay that?

      • passin_threw

        Nobody is saying get rid of sports….are you kidding me? Several are saying that.
        My tax dollars are helping pay for plays and musicals, why should I have to pay for that? Because it’s all part of the education system. It’s not that hard to understand.

      • Good try

        Middle school Spanish is the only school time program being cut…big deal. The BOE is bringing some teachers back so that class sizes will be maintained. No where in any of the articles or at the meetings have supply lines been mentioned as a cut. Wanna try again?

        • Money wasted

          ‘Big deal’ and ‘some teachers’?? Ok, how about we trim down that sports budget more than the measly $11,000 that they did and since it’s not a ‘big deal’ to you, we can trim out tennis so Spanish class can be brought back :) We are after all dumping about $495,000 a year into sports (an outside of school activity and not required). How about we also get rid of the same number of coaches then as teachers that are not hired back since you aren’t worried that ‘some’ teachers lost their jobs?

          • Look ahead

            Most coaches are teachers so that would be a little counterproductive don’t ya think. 86.5% of our general goes to what???? Salaries and benefits is the answer. We have been slightly too heavy in that regard. Sports receives 65k for program needs, 130k from Booster Club & Fund Raising and the remainder of the 465k is coaching stipends, transportation and facilities rentals. That’s not very much. It sucks that teachers being let go but it’s not because of sports. Robbing from an already underfunded program is not the answer. Here’s a challenge for you…get online and do some research. Avg teacher pay for Hays vs. State avg, sports budget at Hays vs. State avg, and curriculum options at Hays vs State avg.
            then get back to me with…

          • FHSU student

            465k isn’t very much? Where do you get that? It’s a LOT of money in my book. Taxpayer money mind you. Education is already underfunded so don’t give me that line and equate it in sports. And I also don’t care about the sports budget in other towns and states. This is Hays and the only town I care about. We don’t have the money to fund it all. Cuts have to be made. I put education of our kids at the top of that list. Sports is a luxury. Luxuries can and should be cut/trimmed.

          • FHSU GRAD

            Do you even know what is going on? No programs are being cut except middle school Spanish. The elementary schools are gaining their teachers back. So what’s your problem? Did you ever stop to think that part of the problem with our poor business practices was that we were too heavy on the salary/benefit side of the general fund. Truly that was an area that needed some trimming as well. We don’t need more teachers then we can afford either…it’s a hard truth and it sucks for those affected but it might be best. Ever wonder why employers don’t have more employees, because they cost a lot of money too. What is your biggest concern?

          • FHSU student

            Do YOU know what’s going on? It’s called spending 1/2 a million dollars on middle and high school sports when we don’t have the money! Hays taxpayers are tired of putting their hard earned money in this category. Education, yes. Sports for fun, no. Fund your own sports if you just have to have them. And we aren’t ‘heavy’ on the salary/benefit part. We are ‘heavy’ on the loose spending that has been going on, mainly approving anything anyone wants when it comes to sports. Some examples…..$2,500 a game to rent FHSU stadium. $5,500 in just one year to recondition some football helmets. A high salary paid to the new football coach so we can now win games. New sodding for the field…..never mind that the city actually wants Hays residents to severely cut back on water. Adding 7th grade sports at a cost of thousands, yet supposedly now we are ‘locked’ in and no turning back on that one. Seems like if it’s sports, it’s a done deal and no one wants you to look at it to closely. If you need to save lots of money quickly, the easy way out is to fire the teachers. Who cares if the class sizes will be larger or that we’ll have to tack on $60 more per student just for them to go to school. At least we have fully funded sports and all the coaches present (except for the pidally $11,000 total they cut from the sports budget).

          • SPORTS

            SO FHSU Student – if these kids “pay to play” which I don’t have a problem with. If you don’t want to pay $2,500 a game to rent FHSU where do you suggest these kids play on Friday nights? HHS does NOT have a field / stadium for Friday night games like MOST 5A schools do. No lights, bleachers, etc…. guess we can build a half million dollar stadium like other 5A schools – or we can pay $2,500 4 or 5 times a year!! Seems like $10,000 a year doesn’t sound like much compared to a half million dollar stadium.

          • FHSU student

            My point is if you want it, then pay for it yourself, not ask taxpayers to do so. Have fundraisers, collect ticket sales, have pay to play, get donations, sell concessions, make do with what you have, etc. If you can’t pay for it yourself, then don’t have it. That’s the same philosophy in life when you get older. You don’t buy a new $55,000 expedition when all you can afford is a $1,200 used Ford Escort.

          • SPORTS

            Know your facts – new sodding was for the baseball field – not football.

          • Taxpayers

            And that was paid for by the T_X P_YERS. If you would like to by a vowel, I do have an ‘A’ you can use.

          • Realist

            The school district has been mismanaged, no doubt. A few years of difficulty will incur. The education being offered will remain in tact, and thankfully we have many great teachers. Spending is way down as the district has been on a spending freeze. The football coach is paid as any other teacher with coaching stipends, his salary has nothing to do with the BOE or admin, they don’t set the pay grade, HNEA does. Helmets must be reconditioned per state law. Sod was purchased via Capital Outlay funds which can not be used for General Fund purposes. Our current LOB is almost 24 million. Salaries and benefits comprise 86.5% of the LOB. We have a logistical nightmare for activities and transportation is definitely higher as a result. I respect and appreciate students who are involved in school activities, which includes the student athlete. Athletics have been cut for years just like teacher supply chain funding. Raises have been distributed frequently and state dollars have steadily decreased. Salaries and benefits had to be assessed and trimmed. I don’t believe much more should be expected as now it’s time for the BOE to make the changes efficient. Sometimes the truth is difficult and hard measures must be taken. The attitude of “something” vs . “something” is a dead end street. I truly believe things will improve!

          • More info

            Teachers have not received raises frequently. For several years, they were on a wage freeze. Only last year did they receive a fraction of a cost of living increase.

          • Informed

            This is just not true. Teachers have had raises every year except three in the last 19 years. If frequently requires more than 16 out of 19 years you are correct, otherwise you are wrong.

          • More info

            I’m talking about the last 6 years. And according to my source, 3 of those 6 years the wages were frozen. Unless you post a legit link showing your side, you could really just put down anything you wanted. I believe my source which is a teacher.

          • Money

            You are very wrong. Why would you even say that? A couple of the raises in recent years were 5% and 6%.

          • More info

            Post your link, USD 489 teacher raises page, news article, or some reliable source. Otherwise, it’s he said, she said and I believe my source.

  • numbers

    when does the board start looking at the medical insurance we are paying for everybody? bring in some new bids and start making the employee pay a little more instead of the taxpayers. that would help the budget of school district.

    • No job app here

      And what kind of teachers will we have here in a few years? We already at the state level took away tenure. Here locally we told 16 teachers (some who were here teaching for several years) to take a hike. And now everyone is talking about giving the teachers pay cuts and increasing their share of insurance costs. Yeah… I’d want to apply at USD 489.

      • passin_threw

        In comparing our test scores with other schools it’s quite obvious we don’t have the upper echelon of educators anyway.

        • Makes you wonder

          Or could it be that our class sizes are already too big to begin with? So what is the solution? Let’s make class sizes even bigger, which will probably drive test scores lower. Thank goodness the state is currently in the transition area of Common Core.

          • Wondering

            Compared to the other schools in the WAC (because they are of similar size and location) Hays class sizes are small and test scores are middle of the road.

          • Wondering

            To add to that last thought; the avg teachers salary is the highest of all WAC schools

          • passin_threw

            Don’t disrupt his story with facts

      • jennifer

        get rid of the old grumpy, frumpy teachers that make the higher pay. replace them with younger brighter teachers out of college for lower salaries. after all 2+2 still equals 4 if taught by a young math teacher or older math teacher.

        • Teacher

          Please, please do not judge a teacher by their age! Oh my! When I look back to my first years of teaching, I feel terrible. Yes, I was bright eyed and ready to save the world, but I didn’t have experience. That is something that you can’t get in college! There is so, SO much more to teaching than 2+2=4, and it makes me sad to even think that I should have to take the time to explain this! I wish that I could grant you 1 week in my classroom. I guarantee that you would feel differently. I have been teaching for 20+ years, and I still don’t know it all, but baby, I’ve come a long ways! You need to thank your child’s teachers for all they do. This is a job that I do because I love it and the kids, not for the “big” salary or the prestige. If that was what I was looking for then teaching would not be my career choice! P.S. We are very lucky to have the teachers that we do at USD 489!

          • stone_cold_steve_austin

            Thank you for your years of service. I agree that we don’t have “big” salaries, but I would say it is a decent living in our area. In comparison to other industries in our area, the salaries are very comparable.

        • Guest

          You are so misinformed. Some of the absolute best teachers are those that have been teaching for 20 years or more. Yes, newer teachers will get paid less, but you get what you pay for!

      • stone_cold_steve_austin

        The state did not “take away tenure”. They are letting the local governing body make that decision.

        • No job app here

          If a group, state, or individual stops offering a service or item that they used, then that is ‘taking it away’. Yes, local BOE’s can decide whether to offer ‘tenure’ (and with their OWN rules and exclusions). Tenure as all Kansas teachers knew it though has been taken away. Between some districts that will probably not offer it and others that will put together some kind of hodge podge set of tenure rules, teachers are left in a far worse place.

      • Insurance

        I may not be correct – but believe single coverage is paid at 100% for district employees. I don’t know anywhere else in town where the employee is not required to pay a portion. I know I have to pay a portion of my insurance plan. I believe teachers should be required to also.

        • Parent

          Wah Wah. Become a teacher then if it’s such a grand job to have. You have to compare apples to apples for one. Maybe you make $55,000 a year in your oilfield job and pay a portion of your insurance while a teacher makes $33,000 a year and insurance is all paid. You have to look at the whole picture or it won’t make sense. Second, you said you may not even be correct on whether it’s paid or not. I don’t know myself so can’t comment.

          • Insurance

            No actually I work in a bank and make about $35,000 working 12-months out of the year and STILL am required to pay my share of health insurance!!!

          • Where are the priorities?

            I said compare apples to apples. I just gave one example-Duh–I don’t know who you are or where you work. But since you gave me more info, then in your case, maybe you work at a bank making $35,000 but don’t have a 4 year college degree…..or maybe even a masters like some teachers have. My point was that just because you have certain benefits or a certain salary amount at your job, they may not directly compare to a teachers. At your bank job, do you have to take continuing education college courses at your own expense to keep your job? If you post a picture of yourself on facebook holding a drink, is your job in jeopardy? Are you just a bank teller counting change back while the teacher you are comparing yourself to teaches high school physics? Those answers vary for everyone. Some have it better than teachers, others worse.

          • Fact Finder

            The average teacher pay in USD 489 is around $56,000. They also receive 100% insurance and KPERS retirement. Not commenting on whether this is too much, but just wanted to make sure you knew the facts

          • Parent

            What does average have to do with it? If teachers stay long term at USD 489, then of course, they will make more money. If you have high turnover, then the average pay could be $35,000. You want long term employees. Keep giving our teachers the shaft and making them feel unwanted and they will not want to teach in our district. The ones that are good and have been here a long time will move on. Also, you don’t get paid $56,000 as a first year teacher here. According to the USD 489 pay chart, if you teach here for 6 years and have a masters degree, you only make $40,000 as I recall.

          • Fact Finder

            I am not sure what it has to do with it, but you brought up an oilfield job making $55,000 and teachers only making $33,000. There are now teachers in USD 489 making $33,000. While this looks good to support your argument it is just not true. The starting wage for a teacher is $35,870. Just wanting to make sure that the facts are correct and not being misconstrued to prove your point.

          • Fact Finder

            That should have said there are no teachers in USD 489 making $33,000.

          • Parent

            Oh my God. It’s was just a made up example to show that two different jobs salaries aren’t directly comparable. You have to look at the big picture when someone quotes a salary. So big deal, I was off by $2,870. Hopefully now you at least can understand my post.

  • Recruiter

    You can not recruit kids to come to a public school. The only schools that can recruit are private schools.

  • guest1

    Will the school be requiring documentation (a current W2) on file to be released from the responsibility of fees? Completed free/reduced lunch paperwork should not be sufficient. As that program does not require documentation, it is not valid proof. If they want to follow that programs income guidelines that’s fine, but I feel like they need to do it the right way.

    • Reality

      Agreed! The program is ripe for abuse; district audits should be mandatory. If you meet the guidelines, great — you are eligible. If you cannot prove eligibility, pay your way.

  • Fed up

    I am voting no on LOB. Don”t feel they can be trusted.

  • Neighborhood school??

    Why didn’t they make parents use the schools closest to their homes….an obvious loophole many will take advantage of!