(03/20/2019)
LEGISLATURE DECLINES TO CHANGE FUNDING FORMULA FOR A DECADE

By Calhoun School Superintendent, Kelli Whytsell

Calhoun County desperately needs to be funded to a base or hold safe level of 1400 students. We lost 57 students from October 1, 2017, to October 1, 2018.

With the loss of 57 students in Calhoun County, we will see a decrease in State Funding. If Calhoun County were funded to the 1400 level, it would allow me to employ additional math, social studies, career, and technical and English teachers. I would also be able to employ additional service personnel to allow for the upkeep of our facilities.

At the Board meeting Monday, March 11, we reduced service and professional positions to allow us to stay within the State funding formula. If the Hold Safe or Floor of 1400 were passed, I would not need to reduce current staff, and I could hire additional staff.

I do not have any additional teachers or service personnel to cut. We are reducing the offerings for classes and increasing the number of students enrolled in the classes, and we are not able to maintain our facilities. We are struggling to meet basic needs for students.

The funding formula has created the haves and the have-nots.

I have amazing teachers, service personnel and administrators that work very hard every day to provide educational opportunities to our students. However, we are limited by what we can afford. I can't provide the intervention programs, technologies, or classes that students should be receiving to experience a well-rounded education that will allow them to pursue their goals.

The funding formula needs to set a base or minimum funding level that all small rural schools will receive. For example, if all eleven counties under 1,400 were to receive funding for 1,400 students, they would allow us to plan, implement and continue to grow our academic programs instead of continually looking at cutting positions and programs. I cannot have a strong academic program and continue to lose funding.

I could list many ways the education that I offer in Calhoun isn't equitable. The base funding of 1400 that would allow school systems, especially Calhoun, to move students out of poverty and the school system out of poverty into providing a quality education for all students.

This would allow me to be able to focus on improving academic performance instead of managing the bottom line and worrying about keeping the lights on in the schools, the buses on the roads, and the students fed.


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