TOPEKA (KSNT) — Schools across the state are scrambling to adjust their budgets with just months left in the school year, this after Governor Sam Brownback approved drastic cuts to public education funding.
Now, some of those budget cuts are taking a strange direction.
Topeka Public School leaders are figuring out how to make up for a $1.6 million loss this school year.
That means major cuts across the board. We’ve even been told some parent organizations are being asked to pay for basic needs like toilet paper.
“I can see the parents helping out in some ways, but again, we’re paying our taxes, where’s our tax money going?” wonders grandparent Kim Rose.
That’s the question many parents and grandparents like Rose are asking. They want to be sure their tax dollars are spent wisely.
“They need to look at where the money is going for sure. I mean put in the right hands. Number one is our kids and they need to learn a little bit of everything, the old times and the new times,” said Rose.
We received a few Facebook messages from McCarter Elementary School saying parents are being asked to pony up nearly $700 just to pay for toilet paper.
It may be a way for parents to make a point about the budget cuts, and neither school, nor district officials would confirm the request, but, “If it’s needed it’s needed. There’s a lot of need for money in the public schools,” said parent Russell Smith.
Topeka Public School leaders say they appreciate that support from parent teacher organizations, but don’t expect them to pick up any significant slack.
“There’s no problem, we have a couple months of school left, there’s not going to be a problem of running out of supplies for the students in the classroom or for the teachers,” said Ron Harbaugh, Communications Director for Topeka Public Schools.
As far as the cuts they’re facing Harbaugh says that will likely only impact administrative costs, field trips, and summer school, not toilet paper or other essential classroom needs.
“That would be the last place that would feel the effects of the budget cuts,” said Harbaugh.
KSNT also spoke with leaders from the Auburn-Washburn School District, which is also losing more than $1 million this school year.
They weren’t able to say exactly where those cuts will be made, but we’re told school officials have been advised to “revisit budgets and spending” and see if there are ways to be more financially conservative.
Both the Topeka and Auburn-Washburn school districts are also facing large funding cuts for the next school year. They’re still evaluating options for adjusting those budgets.