At Monday’s school board meeting, Kelly Robson presented his family’s plan to donate a whole new set of uniforms — home and road — for the high school girls’ varsity basketball team. It doesn’t take much knowledge of sports apparel pricing to understand it is a significant donation. Sure, Robson coaches the team, and sure, his daughter plays on the team, but donating uniforms goes far beyond what can be expected of a coach.
Marion sports teams are fortunate to have generous benefactors, and it isn’t just the Robsons. Less than a year ago recent graduate Tylor Neil donated new uniforms to the wrestling team. Ideally, uniforms for teams and organizations representing the school would be paid for by the school district budget. Unfortunately, school budgets have been less than ideal in recent years amid cuts to state aid and declining enrollment. USD 408 and many districts like it have had to cut costs.
Urban schools, with large enrollments and sky-high property values, don’t have to rely on generous donations to keep normal, expected programs going. This isn’t to say larger schools can spend money willy-nilly, but they aren’t faced with the same challenges and decisions as rural schools.
The state has tried to address inequalities in enrollment and property values for school districts in the past, but those concerns went by the wayside while school funding was cut during a stumbling economy. It’s time for the legislature to tackle those issues of inequity in school funding, and it has to start with rural legislators. We can’t count on legislators from urban districts to stand up for small schools.
Rep. John Barker represents us in the House of Representatives. His email address is email@example.com. Sen. Jay Emler represents us in the Senate. His e-mail address is Jay.Emler@senate.ks.gov.
— ADAM STEWART