The Shawnee Mission School District provides valuable learning opportunities to our children, preparing them for future learning and for success in life. We are right to be proud of what our students accomplish and grateful for the chances they have. We should also be vigilant, committed to ensuring that our schools have what they need to meet tomorrow’s challenges, and never content with the gains of yesterday.
School funding in Kansas is precarious, in light of projected state budget shortfalls of more than $238 million by July 2016. States can’t run deficits, so that budget hole will have to be closed somehow. K-12 education looms large in the state budget, so it’s hard to imagine that our schools can emerge unscathed. This raises the risk of cuts upon cuts, since, prior to passage of a new school finance bill this year, Kansas cut education spending more than 45 other states, with funding down more than 16% between 2008 and 2013. Since almost all of our schools’ budgets go towards instruction and student support services, school funding cuts will inevitably harm our children’s educations. Even if the cuts are only temporary, the effects may be lifelong.
Policy is shaped by the policymakers we elect. Our decisions this November 4, then, are critical for our children’s futures. Voting sends a signal that we are committed to using every lever of influence we have to help our children succeed. Carefully selecting policymakers who will prioritize our schools gives us the best team we can assemble to confront the challenges we face. We cannot be content to coast on the strength of our past success. Our children need a world-class 21st Century education, for their tomorrows, which requires our attention today.