July 20, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Legislators Draft School Funding Plan

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Lawmakers released a school funding plan that would add $75 million to Kansas public schools. Details of the plan trickled out for a few days ago, but dollar amounts were announced yesterday.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled block grant funding unconstitutional. Its opinion gave legislators a June 30 deadline to adopt a formula that adequately calculates school funding.

The plan looks similar to the 1992 school funding formula. Under the proposal, school districts receive base state aid per pupil. Many of the previous weightings for things like English as a Second Language students and transportation remain.The proposal sets base state aid per pupil at $4,170. Though the formula includes weightings for low enrollment, more than 100 school districts would receive less funding due to declining enrollment.

District Winners and Losers

Under the proposal, the Great Bend School District loses $1.2 million, Geary County Schools loses $5.5 million, Ft. Leavenworth loses $3 million and Hutchinson School District loses $2.5 million. Hutch’s neighboring district, Buhler receives $1 million more. Growing districts receive a bump in funding. Every Johnson County School District receives a funding increase as would the Dodge City, Hays, Topeka, Wichita, and Kansas City, Kansas, School Districts. View specifics for all school districts here.

Alan Rupe, an attorney for districts that sued the state for more money, told the Wichita Eagle, the proposal was “throwing a glass of water on a prairie fire.”

Following the Court’s ruling, school attorneys suggested it would take between $400 million and $800 million in additional funding to meet the Court’s adequacy test. However, the Supreme Court ruling stopped short of requiring a specific dollar amount.

“Our adequacy test…rejects any litmus test that relies on specific funding levels to reach constitutional compliance,” the Court’s opinion reads.

Justices recommended legislators consider previous audits and studies that suggest $4,654 per student might pass Constitutional muster. Justices opined that their guidance, however, is incomplete.

The plan would spilt local option funding into three dedicated stream. Districts would be required to use one stream for at-risk students. Additionally, the proposal expands a tax credit scholarship program for low income students.

Hearings on the legislation are scheduled for March 23 and March 24, and lawmakers say those hearings may stretch into next week.





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