January 11, 2001

District Problems Are Money And Leadership


By Jon A. Brake

The Manhattan School District has two problems, money and leadership. The Budget for next year will fall $2
million short out of a $55 to $57 million Budget. They also need to find a new superintendent before the year
begins in August.

So far the School Board has decided to throw money at both problems. They want to raise the Local Option
Budget from 18% to 25%. That will help with the $2 million shortfall but to get to the 25% LOB they open the
door for a protest petition. That would mean a Vote of the Taxpayers in April.

The School Board has gone off the deep end looking for a new superintendent. They have announced that they
will start contract talks at $140,000 per year. The Board said to get the person they want they must pay above

As an excuse for paying such an outrageous figure the Board said that if the school district job were in the
business world a company would pay $140,000.

In 1993 enrollment at Manhattan was 6,790 students. They had 486 Certified Personnel and 257 Non-Certified

The District has lost 1,066 students in the last eight years. But they have added 24 Certified Personnel and 57
Non-certified Personnel.

It is easy to understand why the District has a problem with money. In the business world the board of directors
would have been voted out of office and replaced with new leadership.

This week the District started looking at cutting $2 million from the Budget. Eleven subcommittees met to
discuss where to cut expenses but the doors were closed to the public. Why?

Look at the figures above, there are many area to cut. The public has a right to be heard and not just at the polls.
If the District has a problem with the Budget they should open the process. How can they ask for money when
they act as if they have something to hid?