Some Wichita school district promises aren’t important, it seems

A Wichita Eagle Editorial Blog post doesn’t consider the obvious solution to a problem. At issue is the state of Kansas’ “promise” to help local school districts pay for school bonds.

First, the lure of aid is not really a promise by the state. It’s just a law that happens to be in effect, and it can change at any time just like any other law. Further, the amount of aid that USD 259, the Wichita public school district, told voters it would receive from the state — it was pushed on the public incessantly by the Eagle and by school district employees wearing buttons — was an estimate. The actual amount would be calculated each year according to a procedure.

But in Breaking contract on bond aid misguided, unfair, Phillip Brownlee says that the state must uphold its end.

But what about the Wichita school district’s promises? It told the voters that taxes would rise by a certain amount. That’s the source of the cost of the bond being $42.55 for the owner of a $100,000 home. Isn’t this promise important, too?

But that promise would be broken if the state reduces aid and the Wichita school district insists on spending the entire amount the voters authorized. They don’t have to spend it all, as the resolution the voters approved last November authorizes spending “in an amount not to exceed $370,000,000.” It doesn’t require that the entire amount be spent.

What Mr. Brownlee overlooked is this: why not reduce or delay some bond spending? Then the Wichita school district could keep its promise to voters.

Related: Kansas Budget Problems Threaten School Bond Aid.

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