February 22, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

New School Formula Looking More Like Old Formula

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Second verse, same as the first.

The Kansas House K-12 Budget Committee worked more than eight hours yesterday, attempting to craft a school financing plan. The plan looks a lot like the old formula lawmakers scrapped in 2014. Legislators dumped a 1992 formula, replacing it with block grants for two years.

The 1992 school financing plan provided a base state aid per pupil. It used a series of weightings that allowed districts to count some students as more than one. When it was originally adopted, the formula contained four categories of weightings. That eventually ballooned to 14 weightings.

This session, lawmakers heard a variety of proposals to replace the block grant funding, and lawmakers worked one such proposal yesterday. The legislation infused $75 million more into public school coffers, but a slew of amendments ups the ante by $150 million this year.

Amendments scrapped provisions to take head counts in districts twice a year and to add full funding for all-day kindergarten. A divided committee agreed to provide new funding for mentoring teachers and for professional teacher development.

Committee members debated the virtues of a tax credit scholarship program that allows eligible students in failing public schools to attend private institutions. The original legislation expanded the program. Lawmakers compromised on limiting the number of eligible students and requiring accreditation of the private schools scholarship students attend.

As originally proposed, the legislation creates a base state aid per pupil of $4,170. Prior to block grant funding, base state aid per pupil sat at $3,852. The legislation would phase in $150 million in additional funding for schools each year over the next five years.

The committee meeting ended without members forwarding the bill to the full House. Lawmakers are awaiting fiscal numbers on an amendment that would change the way the original bill calculates additional funding for transportation. The committee will reconvene on Monday with plans to send the proposal to the entire House.

The legislature is set to recess for three weeks beginning next Friday. Legislators also face a Kansas Supreme Court mandated deadline of June 30 to adopt a new school funding plan.















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