This post is to update you on what has happened since the budget meeting, KSD’s responses to date, and to what we hope to find out in the future. The District responded to our questions in a timely and professional manner for most of the items and asked to meet with Martin Bennet. They responded to our first set of questions but this spawned other questions. We we now seek access to online systems to get the answers we seek about the 1 to 1 learning (free iPad) program. We are also engaging the Interim Superintendent about our proposal of collapsing the Technology and Maintenance Funds into the General Fund.
They will continue to provide free health, dental and vision insurance to individual employees working over 30 hours a week. This covers the individual employee but not his or her family members. Employees can purchase coverage for family members. We estimate that he cost of all these benefits for the 660 employees is roughly $1 million a year. This benefit is not typically enjoyed by private sector taxpayers.
The District is not only offering free tuition for children of non-resident employees but now also the children of Special School District employees who work on assignment in Kirkwood Schools. Several of these workers are just part-time. This increases the number of free-tuition students to 152. Assuming a cost of $12,000 per student per year, the cost to taxpayers is $1,824,000 a year. To those of you who pay or have paid private school tuition, let that sink in.
The district has no stated plans to open up a costly and unnecessary free taxpayer-supported pre-kindergarten. This is a great relief. This is something most all KSD parents currently pay for on their own. Taxpayer funded pre-school is a constant threat to taxpayers and fiscal responsibility from teachers unions and bureaucrats who want to expand government by giving free child-care through public schools. While there is evidence that this would benefit underprivileged children, the educational benefits of children attending pre-kindgergarten dissipate by the third grade for other children.
The District has no plans to build any buildings as of June 2017.
The district has changed the 1 to 1 Technology (free iPads for all students) survey to determine the actual number of lessons that the devices are used for lessons. They have removed the ability to realistically determine how often and in how many lessons the devices are actually used. We have asked them to provide access to the District's computerized lesson creation and storage software to determine this information. We are also asking them to separate out the costs of the 1 to 1 technology that is used in instruction from the IT infrastructure that cannot be cut or lowered. That was a new request. Our perspective is that if the spending does not support lessons then the technology is of little educational value and the money should not be spent.
We have a meeting with the Interim Superintendent at which we will hopefully receive answers to the new set of questions and discuss combining the Technology and Maintenance funds into the General Fund. This, we believe, will eliminate the wasteful spending in the 1 to 1 technology program and potentially avoid future tax increases. Since the Maintenance and Technology Funds are locked up for specific uses the board cannot relieve budgetary pressures in other areas. The Funds, furthermore, exacerbate waste since they waste the money on such things as giving iPads to Kindergartners. They either spend it or it just sits in an account not being able to be more wisely spent elsewhere.
To do this means that the District would have to get a Board approval. They could then get a legal waiver from the State of Missouri or be forced to put the issue on a ballot. Tax Fairly would obviously support this Ballot Initiative.