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USD 489 board votes to maintain increased enrollment fees

USD 489By KARI BLURTON
Hays Post

After lengthy discussion at Monday’s meeting, Hays USD 489 Board of Education members voted 3-2 to make no changes to the increased enrollment fees.

Facing a more than $1 million budget gap, board members voted in May to increase workbook/materials fees by $60, approved an activity fee increase of $50, and added a kindergarten fee of $150 to be in place for one year.

Though all board members agreed the fees are high, the consensus was the budget needs to be balanced and USD 489 has already budgeted for the increased fees, which would generate nearly $195,000.

“I couldn’t agree more that our fees our too high,” Superintendent Dean Katt said, “but I think it is real late now to make a decision to reduce them. I would be more than happy to recommend we reduce them next year when we have the time to budget accordingly.”

Board members Marty Patterson, Josh Waddell and Sarah Rankin voted to accept Katt’s recommendation to make no changes to the increased fees.  Board members Greg Schwartz and Lance Bickle voted no on the motion. Board President James Leiker and board member Danielle Lang were absent.

At last week’s work session meeting, Rankin suggested decreasing the activity fees to $25, and  the workbook/materials fee to $30, and possibly adding a $25 dollar “pay-to-participate” fee.

“Our reality is the state base aid continues to fall every year for the last five years, expenses continue to go up across the board, ” Rankin said. “We attempted to remedy the situation ourselves through the LOB (local option budget increase) but that failed, so our only recourse is to raise fees, unfortunately.”

Rankin asked if the fees could be lowered.

Katt said if the fees were decreased, funds then would have to taken out of the capital outlay funds, noting the budget is already “very tight.”

The LOB ballot issue to raise property taxes from 30 percent to 31 percent would have generated a yearly flow of $200,000 for the district, but was rejected by voters in July by a 2-to-1 margin.

The board had hoped with passage of the LOB, enough revenue would be generated to lower fees and bring back some of the teachers whose contracts were not renewed in May because of budget concerns

Waddell said the fees should remain this year and be revisited next year.

“I see more benefits with staying with the fees this year, get the budget balanced, set the tone for next year and think about taking fees back down and set appropriately for next year,” he said.

Related story: USD 489 prepping for 2014-15 school year.

KSKOLLoct
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  • Edumacated In Hace

    Lack of planning and fiscal responsibility… How pathetic!!!

  • wrong

    Rankin said. “We attempted to remedy the situation ourselves through the LOB (local option budget increase) but that failed, so our only recourse is to raise fees, unfortunately.”

    WRONG

    You did not attempt to fix it yourself.. You asked the tax payers to bail you out.

    • Agreed

      I wish it would allow me to “like” this a million times over! You hit the nail on the head!

  • Disappointed

    Go figure – raise our hopes that we might have a bit of relief and then crush them. I’m also confused I thought raising the LOB would add teachers and that the fees at enrollment are allowed to be used for that???

  • jobber

    over 1 million in the hole and fees only bring in $195,000? something more has to give. get ready teachers union. somebody is gonna have to take a pay cut or get cut. that’s a lot of money to make up to balance the budget. i’m sorry but the school board is not doing their job. maybe its time with out with the old and in with the new next election time.

  • Mrs. Fisher

    “I couldn’t agree more that our fees our too high,” Superintendent Dean
    Katt said, “but I think it is real late now to make a decision to reduce
    them. I would be more than happy to recommend we reduce them next year
    when we have the time to budget accordingly.”

    Really? More time??? How much time do you need?
    You knew the budget was short and put all your chickens in one basket …The LOB. You have had plenty of time to balance the budget but keep trying to find ways of making more money rather than SAVING money. A household doesn’t run this way and you can’t run a school district this way. Maybe you need to go back to the basics. Cut ALL programs other than basic skills and you will FIND the money you seek. Our schools and others need to realize that these kids need basic skills which most are lacking in. Start concentrating on their reading, math, English and geography and less on their field trips, art projects and sports. Our children on average have an 8th grade reading level when leaving/graduating USD 489 and yet are excellent athletes! I think this says a lot about where your focus is now and where it needs to go. Schools in general need to start focusing on the basic and standard education of our children. It’s not there to socialize, not there to make a star football or basketball player, not there for scholarship opportunities. All of those things can be found OUTSIDE of the school district. HRC, private lessons, traveling football and basketball teams through the community.Eliminate these things or our schools and children will surely fail.

    • becker

      you sure you don’t want to run for school board? i’ll vote for ya. this is the way i feel. i had a high school kid working for me part time this year (yes he was from hays high) and i asked him to take a tape measure and measure a finish board 23-7/8″. he was lost. had no idea.

    • Mike

      I agree 100% but to state that we have a bunch of “great” athletes is a little of a stretch. I also agree with the fact that you can’t run a business or household like this but I have also seen a ton of changes from where we were just 1 year ago. Tons of cuts etc. have been made and there are lots more to come. The problem is, look what is being paid to teachers and admin in both salary and benefits. The meeting I attended they showed a graph and if I am not mistaken 86.5% of the budget goes to this. Then look at where we rank state wide. We rank in the top 5-10% in salary and benefits yet the students do not show in testing that paying these ridicules salaries are worth it. We also rank in the bottom 10% for revenue coming in. Explain to me how that works????

      • Jessie

        AMEN!

        • Teeter

          Couldn’t agree more

      • Lefty54

        A lot of people seem to think salary and benefits are the problem.
        OK so tell me what a teacher in USD 489 with 10 years teaching experience and a Masters degree should make.
        What do you think is a fair living wage for this person?

        • Mike

          I’m not saying that I know what they should make, I am merely stating the facts. Go look it up on the Kansas Dept. of Education website. Compare our district with others and you will see they have much lower salaries and benefits. The only reason I bring this up is that I have read numerous things from the Teacher Negotiations meetings over the years where the teachers state they need to be paid more and more because the test scores here are a direct correlation of that. I call BS. Look it up on the site and you can clearly see this is not the case. Other districts are not in the financial trouble we are in because they don’t have the ridicules salaries and they also did pay cuts this year. Look at Scoot City USD as an example. But don’t take my word for it look it up yourself.

          • Lefty54

            You aren’t making any sense. You say teachers are making too much but you can’t say what is fair. Is a teacher with 10 years experience and a Masters degree worth $40,000? $30,000? How about $50,000? What is a fair living wage for a professional teacher? Would you teach high school Physics for $30,000 a year? Would you teach a classroom full of 5th graders for $30,000? How about Special Needs classes? Would you like to teach the behavior disorder kids? The autistic kids? If you think these people are overpaid you are mistaken.

          • Jenny

            Speaking of Sick Days, it looks to me like USD 489 pays out $65 per sick day you have accumulated with no cap where as most districts this number is $15-$25 tops. Some of the teachers that have been around for a while and decide to retire are going to get like 15-18K checks. Name me one other job where you get this crap.

          • Think about it

            Not sure of your facts, especially when no link to back it up, but for the sick days you don’t use, the schools don’t have to pay a sub to come in. If you have paid sick days and don’t use them, I would assume one would get paid a reasonable amount, otherwise, the teaches would always use them up. Having to hire subs would end up ultimately costing more in the long run then.

          • Jenny

            Call the board office and ask for a copy of the contract as I did, it’s public record. You would be surprised at all the crap in there. I’m not saying they shouldn’t get sick time, I just saying they should not get unlimited time and not be paid out at $65 per day; that is ridicules no matter how you look at it.

          • Jim

            It’s not unlimited. Teachers only get X days per year of sick days off. Not sure of how many, maybe 5 days. Where do you even come up with that it’s unlimited???

          • No Go

            Really? Then why do the teachers, administrators or maintenance people that are retiring get huge sick day payouts? I.E. Some of them have been 15-18K. Just curious if they are only getting 5 days a year how that would add up??

          • Reality

            Lots of jobs offer a cash out for sick leave based on hours, at much better than $65/day (which equates to $8.12/hr). Goodyear (past employer) would pay up to $25,000 lump sum for accrued sick leave over 2,000 hours. The military lets you sell back 60 days PTO at your monthly pay rate — which could be up to about $15,000 depending on rank.

          • Curious

            Okay, I looked at Scott City and Salina as you suggested. The total average contracted salary for teachers is as follows:
            Scott City – $52,233
            Hays – $52,268
            Salina – $55,302.

            Here’s the link:
            http://www.ksde.org/Agency/FiscalandAdministrativeServices/SchoolFinance/ReportsandPublications.aspx#Salaries

            Not sure where you got your figures. Please provide the source. Perhaps, I am reading this wrong.

        • Mike

          You are correct, and please explain to me how they are not. They only work 8-9 months a year and are paid extremely well. Of course they will argue about that but how can you explain the fact that USD 489 spends 86.5% of their budget on salary yet the average in the state is 70-75%. That’s a huge difference. Just take for instance Salina’s district. While they are obviously bigger then Hays they spend 82% of their budget on salary and benefits. That 4.5% difference equates to approx. 9 million dollars. Better yet look across other districts our size and you will see we are substantially higher. Again, don’t take my word for it. You can see it plain as day on the state dept. of education website. Then we hear about how we rank in test scores and how we are supposedly ranked so high but the funny thing is, the KSDE website says otherwise. So yes I do think they are overpaid and not just with money, I am taking benefits as well (Number of days off during the year, health insurance, sick days etc.)

          • Job market 101

            You are spouting off random jargon that doesn’t even make sense. Money spent per budget in a district can easily vary a lot just depending on teacher/student ratio for one idea. Hays (until a lot of teachers were fired this year) used to have a low number of students per teacher which was a real plus. It costs more for in total salary, but is better than large numbers in a classroom with no one on one time. Big deal teachers work 9 months (a school year). Their pay reflects that ultimately, which is why the ones with masters degrees aren’t making $80k like maybe they would being in pharmacy, engineering, or medical. You think because it’s 9 months that they are only entitled to $13,000 a year or some ridiculous amount. Do you want people teaching your kids that are high school drop outs because you aren’t willing to pay a reputable salary? No one in their right mind goes to a 4 year college to earn a teaching degree only to make 25k a year with no hope of increased pay. Salaried jobs for a professional do come with health insurance, sick days, etc. What you are suggesting is an hourly job, like a hamburger cook if you want to eliminate the perks of a salary job. I can’t believe how people think.

          • Mike

            What “random jargon” are you referring to and how does it not make sense?? READ! All you have to do is look on the state education site and you will see everything I am talking about. Not once did I say what the teachers should make, I merely stated that I think with their contracts etc. they get to much. Just my opinion but according to other districts in the state I am obviously not far off. Again, don’t take my word for it go look at the numbers yourself. Oh and by the way, you are correct, salaried jobs do come with health insurance, sick days etc. The difference is the employer can make changes to it if the company is not doing well or does not have the money. They also have caps on things. Name me a single job you know of anywhere where you get unlimited sick time to build up and you get paid out $65 per day when you leave??? Oh and health insurance, at your job if they decided to switch health insurance do you think they would come around and ask you your opinion on it? Better yet they would not be able to change to another carrier that would save them 600K just because you didn’t want to? Dream on…

          • Jobn market 101

            You dream on. Cheaper insurance isn’t better. Is that what it’s all about with you…..the bottom line? Who cares if the insurance doesn’t cover anything or if medical facilities in Hays don’t accept it, you just want the lowest possible price. You also can’t compare other districts blindly. Is a 1300 sq ft house in Hays the exact same price in the district you are looking at that has a lower salary for a teacher? Is the cost of living in Hays exactly the same as those other towns? I did read what you wrote, but you just posted your opinion with no links to back it up. Where did you get the $65 per day sick leave? Provide a link as proof. Even if it is true, why would you not pay someone if they don’t use a PAID SICK DAY? If you are gonna go that route and only give them $15 for not using them, than every teacher will use those paid sick days forcing the district to hire a sub. And a sub does NOT work for $15 like you want the sick day to be covered for. Sounds to me like you are a day laborer earning an hourly wage with no benefits, no degree, and are just upset. I’ve worked many jobs in my life, lived in Hays a long time, and have a 4 year college degree and would expect nothing less than a good salary with benefits having earned that degree. Even if the job was as a teacher, they work very hard for what they make and could easily make a lot more working in another profession.

          • Mike

            In this case yes the cheaper insurance would have been better, do your homework before arguing. Coventry is accepted by most places in Hays so your argument there does not hold water. Changing to them would have meant a 600K savings to the district. Not chump change in my books. Yes you can compare other districts as long as they are the same size. I am not saying to compare to Johnson County. I’m saying to compare districts of similar size. (Oh and since you have a 4 year degree you should be more then capable of looking on the state dept. of education website to see the numbers yourself) As for the $65 per day, call the board office. I did just as several people mentioned here on Hays Post, I went to the source. It is clearly stated in the contract. There is your “proof” Are you going to tell me that your place of employment gives you unlimited sick time and would pay your $65 per day when you retire for any time you had used? NO, because you can’t operate that way. I would have one heck of a payday when I retire if my company paid me for all my unused sick time. Oh and since you are questioning my Job, I have a masters degree and I have worked remotely for the last 31 years for a Fortune 500 company. Not once did I say that teachers do not work hard, they do and I appreciate it. I do however think that their contract and benefits are to high. If the money is not there then you can’t pay it out. Simple mathematics.

          • Jim

            Then read this very very very slowly so you understand it. Your getting lost somewhere. Call the board office once again and ask them if teachers get unlimited sick leave at $65 per day. I’m trying not to laugh so forgive me. If that was true, a teacher could never show up for work and get a full time paycheck every year. It’s only I think 5 paid sick days per year. You can use them or save them up. My relative who was a teacher for several years never used a sick day for 4 years, then she had a baby so used them in that year to take a little more time off. Makes sense and a lot of places do that.

          • Janie

            Actually Laugh all you want Jim but listen to what your saying. If It is not unlimited them how are they paid out 15-18K for teachers that have been there 30 years? Unlimited means you can keep accruing and never have a cap. Regardless of if it is 5 days a year there is no cap so in essence it is unlimited. I think that is what Mike was referring to. I tend to agree, most places that would allow you to continue to accrue sick time your entire career would not pay you out for all of it. I.E. that is why most places have gone to PTO and even then there is a cap.

          • Jim

            If by chance, some super human teacher never once used a sick day and taught for 30 years straight, at 5 sick days per year and $65 a day, that is still under 10k. So for one, I cry foul on the gossip rumor you are making up. Second, if I had an employee and they never once took a paid sick day, I’d gladly compensate them for it in pay. If they took a sick day and I had to call in a sub (which makes more than $65 for that day), then that saved the district money so quit whining. You still never answered the question about where you got that the district paid someone 18k for unused sick days——–no way to back that one up lol I can make up stuff too to stir up controversy. What gossip battle do you want to do next, maybe try to cap teachers kpers plans so they can’t make over 1% interest?

          • Janie

            Cry foul all you want, Do me a favor Jim and call the board office and ask how much Francis Hammerschmidt will be paid out in sick time when he leaves. This was made public when he was fired and then rehired. Since I’m obviously making this up. This is one example of someone with the district for a number of years that will get a huge payout when they retire or are let go. Ask them about other teachers that have been there for 25-30 years. Don’t take my word for it. Call and ask yourself. You are correct and I agree with paying an employee that does not use their sick time but letting it accrue their entire career is a little much. Find me another business that does this. Better yet how about where you work. Go in and ask your HR dept. about getting paid out for all your unused sick time and most will laugh at you. When you leave you lose it. I’m not trying to be mean, that’s just the way it is at most jobs.

          • Jim

            Francis wasn’t fired and didn’t quit. He was given a package option to leave his position. Totally different than saying he got 18k for unused sick days. That’s like saying the amount that we paid the past superintendent that we let go was for unused sick days. My employer lets me carry over my sick days. Some years I barely use any. One year, due to a death in the family, I used more that I had saved from previous years. They are paid sick days man. You can use them or get paid for them. You should be giving a person a pat on the back for never calling in sick at work, not criticizing them. I also every 10 years get a large bonus check. So now that you don’t get that at your job, should we start another post on why that’s not fair and my employer should do away with it? What’s your beef with teachers?

          • Simpson

            Sorry Jim, but you are flat out wrong on the Francis deal. It is you who should not be spreading rumors. He was canned and then was rehired by the new maintenance director at a lower salary. I have worked in the maintenance dept. for USD 489 for numerous years. He came in after this happened and told all of this he was fired and couldn’t believe it. If he wasn’t fired then why would he tell us that and on top of that why was it in the Hays Daily as well as the board minutes posted on the USD 489 site?

          • Truth

            Teachers receive 11 sick days per year. One per contract month (9) plus 2 days per year. It is on the school website. Here is the link: http://www.usd489.com/wp-content/uploads/Staff-Resources/LEAVEBENEFITSSUMMARY.pdf

          • Truth
          • anon

            My mom retired from the district this year. She worked as a para for over 30 yrs. She had over 250 sick days accrued. It was a very nice parting gift of a payout…considering she didnt even make $12/hr when she retired…after 30+ yrs of service! And she worked her bum off! She was never done for the day until well after students went home, always at work early, and they worked several days throughout the summer! Its not as cut and dried as you all seem to think! Quit harping on teachers! Bitch about the 43 coaches that have been contracted and all their salaries. THATS where our wasting of money is coming from! And thanks to all the selfish mishandling of money…my kids do not get to continue education in GREAT OL HAYS KS. I CANT AFFORD THEIR ENROLLMENT! So now they get to be home schooled. And they are straight a kids with my oldest going in high school this year. They will be loosing all the hard work theyve put in with their music and arts classes. Way to go USD 489. Youve really put my kids first!

          • Really?? Haha

            But you can afford to home school?? Really?? I do not believe one word you have to say.

          • Mike

            Thanks Janie, you are correct as that was exactly what I was referring to. Whether it is 5 days or 50 days they can still keep accruing it for as long as they work and when they leave they get to keep it all. All I am saying is you don’t see any other businesses doing this. They all have caps on how much you can accrue and when you reach the cap you are done, you can’t accrue anymore.

          • Jim

            Ok, so my suggestion is once a teacher reaches that cap, instead of showing up for work and not taking a paid sick day, sock it to the district and take that day off and make them hire a sub at a cost of more than that paid day off is worth had they let it accrue. Geeez. You complain we are short on money and then you complain about things that actually save the district money.

          • Fred

            No Mike you do not get the entire amount, the district takes off the first 25 or 30 days I cant remember, not a huge amount but every employee that retires with at least 10yrs of service loses this amount, no I dont need to look it up.

      • Grass is always greener

        Teachers in Hays are not paid too much. And anywhere you look, most of a businesses money goes to salary. As far as teaching and scores, how you teach is dictated by the state, it’s not always how a teacher thinks it should be taught. You go to college for 4 years, get a degree, keep up a license, and be a teacher for $30k if you think it’s all that and then some.

    • Football

      Oh but we just have to have our kids play ball. I don’t care if he can read, write, or add, I just want him to play sports all season long. I don’t care if the district doesn’t have the money and if it costs taxpayers, I want free sports for my kids. I’m entitled. I get what I want.

      • Fred

        GOOD GOD talk about beating a dead horse, will you let it go man!

        • Student

          You first.

  • ?????

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think this is a passing vote 3-2, if they had a 5 member board I believe it would. But, with a seven member board I think you have to have at least for 4 for it to be a passing vote. Again if I am miss speaking, I apologize and maybe the laws have changed. I will be calling KASB to confirm.

    • Jim T.

      I’m not sure but I think this was just a vote to change the fees. The problem is, the increase was already voted on and approved previously. Bickle and Schwartz both voted against keeping the increased fees because they both stated that because they were not able to use the money for what it was originally allocated for then it was not right to charge the higher fees and they should be adjusted. I applaud both of them for standing up to the administration on this one. There needs to be more of this.

      • Minnie

        I agree 100%. Way to go Bickle and Schwartz!

        • bopper

          schwartz. mr. i’m in charge.

        • Chris

          ummmm you do realize that Schwartz voted no only because the money wouldnt be used for what he wanted right??? He could careless what 489 parents pay, you seriously need to look at Schwartzy, he is playing you people and laughing all the way over to TMP

          • Jay

            Chris quit whining about where his kids go to school. He is trying to cut waste out of the USD 489 budget so there is more money to go to the kids. All of this talk about the need for all of the Fortune 500 benefits are what are breaking USD 489. Schwartz probably pays more taxes than you make in a year. Where did you go to school Chris? Where do you work? You sound like another disgruntled teacher or administrator that is upset that the state has cut funding and there is no longer any money to borrow from. Now the district is making the cuts and you blame the messenger. Did Schwartz somehow convince the legislature and Governor to cut funding? Probably so. He was probably also powerful enough to convince all Kansans to vote for the right wing nuts in Topkea. You need to use some intelligence and understand that the board did not create this problem. They do get the fun job of cleaning this up. If you want to blame someone go blame Fred Kaufman, Richard Cain, Rich Kraemer, Alan Moore, Sharon Befort, Karie Younger and all the other board members that rubber stamped everything. The failure of school boards to ask questions and make the administration prove the numbers is what led to this. The real question is do these new board members have what it takes to carry on what they started or are they going to cave to the pressure from people like you with a hidden agenda.

          • Bob

            You sound like a Schwartz puppet Jay, maybe it you should pull your head out of your a– you will be able to see more clearly that way.

    • Concerned taxpayer

      They have to have a quorum (with 5 board members present this was achieved), so it is a passing vote. My question is how many meetings have some of the board member missed. Seems to be a few missing a lot of meetings. I realize that they all have lives and other commitments but some members seem to be absent more often than not.

      • ?????

        Yes, I agree they have to have quorum, which on a 7 member board quorum is 4, but I was a clerk for 7 years and we had quorum plus we had votes like this that did not pass, I called KASB, I asked the question and they would not give me an answer, even after speaking to the legal team they would not give me an answer as I was told they work for the School Boards. I replied with I am very well aware of that but I am just trying to find out what the law is and they would not tell me. I was instructed to call the Superintendent, I just have to chuckle……cause he is going to tell me it is ok, as they just had the vote and they are considering it passed. I do have a call into the State to see, I’m just curious….not here to cause problems, but just want to know if the law is the same. If so, we have bigger issues than just money……lol, just my opinion of course.

        • Mike

          I agree and KASB is a big part of the problem. The district has to follow tons of their rules but they don’t even know the rules. Look at the bussing, they told the district one thing and low and behold after some research it was found that we do not have to bus people within 2 miles yet initially KASB said you did.

  • tired taxpayer

    The LOB would have done NOTHING to remedy the budget shortfall. If you recall the plan if the LOB passed was to re-hire teachers and reduce fees. None of the LOB increased revenue would have helped with the shortage, they were going to SPEND it. I recently heard Mr. Katt speak on the radio about the budget and he did not seem overly concerned about balancing it as it could be done by deferring purchases and other adjustments etc. i believe they have a plan to balance it but are just not giving us all the facts.

  • Costs too high!

    PATHETIC! Get with the program board and quit increasing enrollment to where it’s sky high! I’m with the one board member that said to add a pay to play fee. With the budget so tight and sports costing us money, is there really any reason you can’t ask the participants to kick in some cash????? Myself and a LOT of other parents are tired of footing the bill so others can play sports on our money.

  • LOL
    • Taxes too high

      If you think sports are soooooooooooo important, than maybe you should pay for it so it doesn’t cost us taxpayers. I’d rather have a person well versed in academics than sports any day and don’t think property taxes should be funding athletics. Sports should be fully funded internally with tickets, fundraisers, player fees, donations, concessions, etc.

      • Chris

        They damn near are and you would still bitc- and moan wouldnt you!

        • Parent

          $495,000 isn’t even close to being fully funded. And why shouldn’t we speak up, it’s money we taxpayers pay in to provide free sports.