February 22, 2001

School District Use Children For Tax Increase Fight

By Jon A. Brake

The Manhattan School District has been on a campaign to raise money so there will not be a need to cut the Budget.

The District has lost 1,066 students in the last eight years but the Budget has gone up each year.

A local option budget petition failed to gain the 1,475 signatures which will allow the School Board to increase local taxes from 18.74% to 25%
of the General Fund. This year the General Fund is $24,971,340 and the LOB is $4,574,526 at 25% the LOB would be $6,242,835.

But even with the increase in local taxes the School Board would need to make cuts. Now the Distinct has turned to the Children to help pay
the way. Students at Frank Bergman Elementary School were given two letters to take home. The first letter was for the parents and the
second letter was for the parents to fill in the blanks to their state legislators.

One teacher told her class that there would be "treats" for each child that brought back a signed letter. No letter, no treat.

Three sample letter were given to the School Building Site Councils by the School Administration.

Here is the letter to the parents followed by the letter to the legislator:

Dear Parent,

As you may already know, there is a serious concern facing our schools at this time. The loss of over 300 students in our district this year
has put us in a difficult financial situation. While some budget cuts may be necessary, our fear is that too many cuts might threaten the
quality of education in our school district. Manhattan is known for the high standards it sets in its public school system. It would be a shame
to allow that performance to decline due to a lack of funding.

A good education is more important now than it has ever been before. With the increased emphasis on technology and a greater demand for
a skilled work force, our kids need every advantage they can get to succeed in today’s fast-paced global economy. To many people this
means saving up so they can send their kids to college. But college won’t do any good unless their kids receive a solid educational
foundation in elementary, middle, and high school. We all want our children to succeed. We must make sure that we give them the tools to do

I feel that the Manhattan/Ogden public school district goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide the best education possible for all
its students. But what is possible depends a great deal on what kind of funds are available. When we lose funding, we lose possibilities.

That is why I am urging you to sign the attached letter to our state legislators. Let your representatives know that you care about your kids
and are involved in their education. Let them know that your school is important to you and you want to protect it. Let them know that you
are willing to invest in your child’s future. The letter supports a small increase in taxes in order to adequately fund our schools. The real cost
to you in dollars would probably be less than you would spend on dinner and a movie for the family. When you think about where your
money is going - to improve your child’s chance to succeed - it seems a small price to pay.

Please sign the letter, add any personal comments you’d like to make, and return it to your school. All of the letters from the parents in our
school district will be mailed to our representatives in the State Capitol Building. Every letter counts.

Thank you for your support.

Dear _____

I am a parent in the Manhattan/Ogden school district. I am writing to encourage you to support legislation that supports our schools. My
district is in a difficult financial situation due to the loss of 300 students this year. While I understand that some budget cuts may be
necessary, I am worried that too many cuts might threaten the quality of education my child receives. That’s why we need your help.

No one likes taxes, but it seems that a tax increase is the only way Kansas will be able to afford to continue providing the best education it
can for our children. I encourage you to support a modest increase in taxes in our state that would directly fund education in grades K-12. It
is important that my tax dollars are invested in my child’s future. I believe that the future lies in education.

I understand that this is a complicated issue. I only hope that you will be able to do what is right for your constituents and for our children.