Letter to the Editor

Expense per student

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dear Editor,

When anyone knows the whole truth about a topic and chooses to tell only the facts they feel may support their position and leave out the rest of the facts it is in my opinion an attempt to mislead and little different than a lie. In the next few sentences I will define a number of terms that are being used to try to influence voters to vote in favor of the proposed levy increase. The first term is "local effort," this term is used to describe the amount of money a district can raise with its current levy and assessed valuation divided by the number of their students. Saying our local effort is lower than the districts listed below is true but a poor attempt to lay a guilt tip on the voters of our district. The truth is when compared to these schools we rank third from the top for expense per student. Below you will see how we compare to the schools that the promoters of this levy have selected that have an enrollment within 1,000 students more or less than Marshall. We spent $8,473 per student last year. This is possibly due to the makeup of our community, the fact that we have a large number of students from low income families and a large number of special needs students we receive more federal and state funds. This just means the state and federal governments give us back more of our own money than some other districts. When you consider the entire education budget of each of the schools listed below you will find Marshall, fares very well. The schools listed come from a list used by those promoting the levy. The other schools on their list but not shown below include Sedalia and all the other schools of Saline County.

These figures come from the annual report every school district must file with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education after the final audit has been completed. You can compare these figures and raw your own conclusions:

Reviewing the brochures being circulated to encourage support for the levy a couple of thoughts come to mind. One safety measure scheduled for 2015-2016 raises some safety concerns. This measure is "fix gas leaks at Eastwood and Southeast." I find it impossible to believe that repairing a gas leak depends upon the levy passing. If it has not been repaired this district has a bigger problem than deciding on a levy. Another thing depending upon the passage of the levy is "repair roofs at MHS, southeast, SCCC, Eastwood and BMS." Still others include raises for staff and replacing old computers. The truth is the Marshall School District has enough money in reserve to do all of these things and still have an ample cash reserve (check the figures provided.)

During my career I have served as superintendent or assistant superintendent for 28 years and have passed levies on the first try and have never heard of a levy proposal like the one that will be on the ballot in April, nor has any other administrator I have visited with. At some point this district will need to pass a levy I just don't believe this is the one. I hope everyone will make-up their mind for or against and will get out and vote.

Roger Blakely,
former superintendent, Marshall