When asked what the Hillsboro community can do to prevent the further outward migration of young families and subsequent declining public school enrollment, Kansas state senator Jay Emler said citizens could wait for years.
“It will be three to five years before we see how well the cuts drive the economy,” he said, referring to state income tax cuts made in 2011 to help create new jobs.
About 100 community members sat in on a public panel discussion Monday night led by leaders from the community, county, and state about issues important to Hillsboro.
Emler said even after two years little progress has been made, but that was expected to this point. Even if the governor’s idea comes to fruition, Emler still was unsure how much the central and western portions of the state would benefit.
“We hope it works, but if it doesn’t, I’m not sure what we’ll do,” state Rep. Don Schroeder said.
With fewer job opportunities available in the county, more young families have moved from the area, causing the decrease in student population, resulting in school position cuts. Since the 2008-09 school year, USD 410 has cut 15 full-time positions to accommodate its shrinking enrollment.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” Emler said.
Despite the immediate issues facing the school system, administrator Larry Paine said there should not be too much panic.
“We are not in a problem area financially,” he said.
Paine said that this year has been the best for sales tax receipts in three years.
Questions and concerns addressed by community members also included tax breaks for local businesses, the elementary school’s plan for school-to-farm learning, and property taxes for homeowners.
In other business:
- School board members recognized former mechanic John McMinn for his service.
- The board met in closed session for 15 minutes, voting to terminate the contract of middle school secretary Leah Remboldt and approve the resignation of bus driver Annette Nienstedt.