February 13, 2016

School district should cease blame placing; seek solutions

Discussion was lively at the USD 231 board of education Jan. 13 meeting.
The days of a rubber stamp board appear to be gone, and we thank new board members for voicing concerns of constituents, asking questions and making suggestions.
Funding was at the forefront of discussion with Bill Gilhaus, superintendent, asking members to consider increasing the local option budget, a local property tax, at the next election.  Increasing the LOB to 31 percent would raise about $360,000.
Gilhaus, who asked board members to hold their questions during his presentation, also said another bond issue should be considered. Although he did not provide an estimated dollar amount, he said facilities, land acquisition, maintenance of existing facilities and parity, as well as building a new high school, or expanding the current high school, should be discussed.  The district’s last bond issue was for more than $70 million in 2012.
Gihaus blamed the district’s financial woes on everything from slowing residential growth, the city’s mix of residential/commercial demographics, reduced state funding and Obamacare.
Gilhaus said full implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act could result in a $1 million budget shortfall in the school district.
When board Tresa Boden asked whether the district had made a plan or provisions for Obamacare, which was enacted a few years ago, Gilhaus admitted there was a backup plan. He said the district would have a balanced budget, but he did not elaborate.
Just once, we would like to hear district administration take responsibility for the district’s finances.
Stop blaming everyone.
The USD 231 district is no different than any other entity or individual that has suffered through the recession and dealt with increased expenses and decreased revenues.
Deal with it.


  1. Walter H. says:

    Oh, there is a plan, it’s called “Trash and Dash.” That’s the best we can get for a quarter of a million dollars.

    The money will be saved at the expense of the teachers, the students and the non-certified staff.

    The administration gets healthcare of has the option of taking the family plan or a cash value. Many of them just take the cash. I would say we are spending about $250,000 on that debacle alone.

  2. resident_x says:

    I know it’s blasphemy in Gardner to say we waste money on sports, but… we waste FAR too much money on sports. Instead of adding 3 administrators for every 1 teacher, and adding MORE sports facilities to the high school, maybe spend the money on education instead. There’s a reason the state of Kansas is reducing funding for schools, because the school districts believe it is more important to have a good football team than teach the kids.

    Do we need another high school? Yes. Ours is already overcrowded. But instead of wasting money on more football facilities which only a small subsection of people get the benefit of, spend OUR money on something that EVERYONE gets the benefit of.

    I won’t vote for higher taxes. We already have the 16th highest sales taxes in Kansas, our water and sewage costs are ridiculous compared to almost every other city around. We had a 26% property tax increase in 2011. You know what Gardner needs? Better management. If Gilhaus can’t manage his budget, then we will find someone who will.

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