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March 26, 2004

Schools for deaf, blind face cuts in new budget

From: Kansas City Star - Kansas City,MO,USA - Mar 26, 2004

Some lawmakers question fairness of Kansas plan

The Kansas City Star

TOPEKA — The School for the Blind in Kansas City, Kan., and the School for the Deaf in Olathe have students, teachers and classrooms just like their cousins, the public schools.

But they are treated differently when it comes to paying for those students, teachers and classrooms.

The Kansas House approved a budget Thursday that reduces the amount of operating dollars going to the two schools by about $100,000 each. That money will be used to give teachers in those schools a 3 percent raise, the same as other state employees. State agencies, like the schools for the blind and deaf, have separate budgets for salaries and operations.

However, Rep. Scott Schwab, an Olathe Republican, said public schools would probably end the session with more money for both teacher salaries and operations. Schwab said treating the two state schools differently was unfair.

Schwab, Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, an Olathe Republican, and Rep. Bill Reardon, a Kansas City, Kan., Democrat, have been trying to restore the $200,000 cut.

Reardon said he was urging Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to accept that restoration. Reardon thinks the House Appropriations Committee will attempt to restore the money in the last appropriation bill of the session, the omnibus, or catchall, spending bill.

"We've discussed this, and everyone on the appropriations committee knows this is unfair," Reardon said.

To reach Jim Sullinger, call

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