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Funding Cuts Force Kansas Districts to End School Year Early

UPDATED

State education funding cuts are forcing two Kansas districts to end the school year early.

The school year will end for students in the 1,000-student Concordia School District  on May 15 instead of May 21.  In Twin Valley School District, in Bennington, Kan., the last day will be May 8 instead of May 20, the Salina Journal reported.

Twin Valley Superintendent, Jan Neufeld, told the paper the reasons were financial.

KWCH12 reported that the school district faced a $75,000 shortfall this year and that ending the school year early would allow the district to save about half of that. District officials told the television station that the school district did not have enough money in reserves to cover the reductions that were made when Gov. Sam Brownback signed a new funding formula into law last month and set up a transition block grant system for the next two years.

"The board's made a difficult decision," Neufeld told the Salina Journal "We have just a few fiscal reserves."

Kansas districts are dealing with a loss of about $51 million they had anticipated this school year but that would not be coming their way because of the changes Brownback signed into law, the Associated Press reports.  While the legislature works to develop a permanent funding formula, the districts will receive block grants of fixed amounts over the next two years.

At a hearing on the block grant funding bill last month, school officials predicted shortfalls during the transition period. And despite being touted as a measure that would give the districts flexibility in how they spend their money—under the grants, the districts can spend the money for any purpose in the budget—district officials argued that the block grants eliminated transparency.

None of the districts supported the plan at a House Appropriations hearing in early March, The Wichita Eagle reported.

In addition to the early closure, there will also be no classes at Concordia April 16 and May 1. Superintendent Bev Mortimer told the Salina Journal that the district would save money by not having to pay for buses, buy cafeteria food, or pay some staff members on those days.

UPDATE: This post was updated to reflect that Concordia students would be out of school on April 16 and May 1.

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