The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 25, 2001 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Page 12
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B4 WEDNESDAY. APRIL 25, 2001 GREAT PLAINS THE SALINA JOURNAL T SOCIAL SERVICES Agencies to protest in Topeka today •Salinans to join InterHab in march around Stateliouse By TANA THOMSON The Salina Journal About 30 Salinans are expected to join more tlian 700 people from around the state today in i Topeka to surround the Statehouse to draw legislators' attention to staff shortages at organizations serving people with disabilities. Those organizations are demanding a $60 million increase in funding — $24 million from the state and $36 million in federal dollars — to increase wages for direct-care workers. • SALINA SCHOOL BOARD InterHab, a Topeka-based organization that represents people with disabilities, will lead the demonstration in hopes of getting the attention of legislators, who return today for their wrap-up session. Tom Laing, executive director of InterHab, was in Salina Tuesday as part of a statewide tour to drum up support for the rally and to call attention to the needs of agencies that help the disabled. Laing was confident the Legislature and Gov. Bill Graves have heard their cry for more money "Our programs are the most important programs," he said Tuesday morning at the Occupational Center of Central Kansas, Inc., 1710 W. Schilling. Laing sited a recent study claiming the state reimbursement rate is $60 million under a level that would be "adequate and reasonable." Low wages and long hours are blamed for perpetuating high turnover rates. Over the past eight years, Laing said, direct-care workers' wages have been raised by less than 1 percent a year. Wages ai-e reimbursed at $7.68 an hour. Laing knows the Legislature's current dilemma — dealing with a projected $205 million deficit for the next fiscal year — but he said that is a result of the state's tax policy, not Kansas' economy. And if the funding doesn't come soon, InterHab will "consider other legal alternatives" to getting it. "The Legislature has to come Refinancing bonds could save money By The Salina Journal Refinancing about $14 million of the Salina School District's construction bonds will save taxpayers about $421,000. Greg Vahrenberg, vice president of investment banking at US Bancorp Piper Jaffray, Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday told the Salina School Board if the district takes advantage of current interest rates — about 4.5 percent — the mill levy to pay off the bond issue might never go above 18 mills to retire the bonds. The school board approved the resolution, which starts the process of financing $38.8 million in bonds and refinancing $13.4 million of the bonds that were financed in 1999 at a slightly higher interest rate. The $52.2 million is the last of the bonds to be financed for the district's $99 million worth of construction projects. "Historically, this is a very, very good time for the school (to finance the bonds)," Vahrenberg said. If locked in at the current interest rates, the district will fall below the original projections of about 6 percent. When those projections were made in 1998 dijring the campaign to pass the bond issue, the district promised the levy never would rise above 20 mills. New appraisal system : The board also discussed a new employee appraisal system that a committee of educators, administrators, community members and staff has worked on for the past year and a half It would cost about $27,750 to implement a pilot program for the new appraisal system in the next school year. Jane Botz, the district's director of human resources, said the district wants volunteers to pilot the program. The new system includes several aspects the current system doesn't, including information from parents and teachers. The current appraisal system has been in place since 1992. "The (current) one doesn't reflect the latest research," Botz said. "I believe we know more about good teaching today." Adding tornado shelters Also at Tuesday's meeting. Bob Holgerson, 1649 N. Halstead, asked the board to consider adding shelters or beefing up areas of all the district's school buildings so they could withstand the beating of a tornado. The district looked into this about a year ago and determined it wasn't feasible, said Salina Superintendent Gary Norris. Nor did the district find any company that would guarantee its product would withstand severe weather, he said. "We do believe our buildings are safe," he said. 582 S. Ohio/Salina 785-827-4114 FREE DELIVERY 10% Cash & Carry Discount Medicaid Prescriptions Welcome Bob Randall / Jim Cram / Rod Smith Hours: 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m .-l :00 p.m. Saturday Toll Free: 1-800-794-2698 j Finish Your Bachelor's Degree In Only 18 Months^ One Night A Week Earn a B.S. in Organizational Leadersliip with Excel, the new degree completion program at Central Christian College! If you are 25 years or older and have some college but never flnished, Excel might be for you. 620.241.0770 Call today for more details and directions to the Information Session Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Classes Starting Soon! 1 CBNTRAl CHRISTIAN 1200 S. Main, McPherson, KS to grips with a major adjustment in the revenue stream," he said. "This is not just OK, it is necessary." Laing noted that when working with people with ranges of disabilities, employees help them get around, eat, go to the bathroom and generally function on a daily basis. "How would it feel to not know from one week to the next who would walk through that door (to help you)?" he asked. "The state has continued to low-ball the community organizations.. Retaining our best employees has become harder each year" With a 30 percent turnover rate, OCCK's rate still is half that of the state average for In- terHab-member agencies. But at any given time, OCCK has 20 job openings. Steve Gieber, director of employment services at OCCK, said each year fewer people apply at OCCK, yearly has to fill about 90 positions. "There are a lot of them (employees) that pull a lot of hours from this job," Gieber said. "For some of them, it is like having a second job." Gieber said that is because open positions still need to be covered while OCCK searches for more employees. • Reporter Tana Thomson can be reached at 823-6464, Ext. 173, or by e-mail at sjttho?nson@sal Old Country Store South of 1-70 on Ninth St. In/mntaflheBent WnlemXldAmerlcaInn Hoirn: Tuesday- Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m Sunday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. Closed Mondays 785-823-2670 Jury selected for Cordray's murder trial By The Associated Press EMPORIA — A 15-member jury was selected in the trial of an eastern Kansas man accused in the death of a teen-ager Robert Cordray, 50, faces one count of first-degree murder in the death of Scott Brown, 17. An alternative charge of felony murder has also been filed. Brown was shot in the head and back the night of Feb. 16, 2000, as he rode in a car that was speeding away from Cordray's home in rural Lyon County Cordray also is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of two of Brown's Council Grove High School classmates who were also in the car Trial began in Lyon County District Court Monday, the fourth date set by a judge for its start. Most recently, the trial was to start Jan. 29, but Cordray underwent a quintuple bypass heart operation Jan. 12 and the trial was delayed. The trial was previously delayed because of three changes in Cordray's defense counsel, two changes in prosecutors and the delay of two preliminary hearings. Community Access MAY CLASSES Producer Orientation ($5.00 class fee) Tues., May 1 6 - 9 p.m. Camera {•? 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