Ciboski: Keep The Focus On Education

Mar 8, 2017

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that increased funding of K-12 education in Kansas is needed. The Court did not say how much money would be required to fund the schools adequately, but it gave the legislature a deadline of June 30 to devise a formula to fund the schools with more money.

One estimate is that it would take $800 million to do so. The block grant program that was established several years ago to give the legislature time to create a new funding formula within two years was also ruled unconstitutional. This means that the legislature and Governor Brownback must come up with an adequate funding program or face the possible closure of the schools this coming summer.

The Kansas revenue and funding situation is one of the most dire in Kansas history. This is the result of the tax and revenue policy implemented in 2012, and which Governor Brownback has refused to renounce. A new funding formula is needed, and this should be a fix that the state can rely on for funding public education in future years. New taxes will likely be necessary to balance the state budget and to provide K-12 education with increased funding.

There is talk about adopting a program of school choice and the providing of vouchers to parents to support a child’s leaving a public school that is thought to be underperforming. Non-public school choices, however, are not readily available in many parts of the state. Also, the few private schools in the state are usually affiliated with a religion. A state constitutional provision provides that no religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.

Regardless, the Governor and the legislature need to keep their focus on the Supreme Court’s decision requiring adequate funding of K-12 education.