education funding

Stephen Koranda

A Kansas Senate committee is looking at rewriting part of the public school funding formula. The Legislature passed a bill increasing one type of school aid last year, but when it was all said and done, the cost had risen beyond their initial estimates. As Stephen Koranda reports, the bill would change how it's calculated and reduce that type of education spending by $40 million dollars.

Stephen Koranda

A proposal in the Kansas Senate would cut back aid to school districts in the current fiscal year. Lawmakers passed legislation increasing one type of school funding last year in response to a court ruling. But as Stephen Koranda reports, when all the variables were finalized, the cost was more than expected.

Some Kansas lawmakers are unhappy because they thought they’d be adding about $130 million dollars, but the cost ballooned. Here’s Republican state Senator Ty Masterson speaking last month.

Stephen Koranda / File Photo

Twenty-four hours in politics is like a year in ordinary life, when surprising and unexpected happenings occur.

Governor Brownback asserted in his State of the State speech that the “march to zero” on income taxes would continue in Kansas. Twenty-four hours later, the administration announced that this “march” would be slowed.

Two new tax proposals were also announced. One is a 300 percent increase on a pack of cigarettes, from 79 cents to $2.29. The other raises the tax on liquor from eight percent to 12 percent.

Stephen Koranda

Governor Sam Brownback and some legislators have been saying Kansas should rewrite the funding formula used to distribute state tax dollars to K-12 schools.

A court ruled last week that the state is underfunding Kansas schools.

As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, that decision may add more energy to the call to rewrite the school finance formula.

In a previous ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s finance system should be judged by determining if the spending levels achieve certain student outcomes.

KPR

The Kansas K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission will continue meeting next month.

Their goal is to wrap up recommendations for cutting costs and improving student outcomes.

As Stephen Koranda reports, the group considered several bills they could recommend to lawmakers Monday, but most of them were either rejected or sent back for more work.

Part of the concern is that several of the proposed bills created new study groups and didn’t actually recommend policy changes for Kansas.

Even before state courts decide whether Kansas spends enough money on K-12 public schools, an education funding lawsuit is complicating efforts by legislators and Governor Sam Brownback to close budget shortfalls.

A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court expects to rule by the end of December in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by parents of more than 30 students and the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City school districts.

Both sides predict an appeal to the state Supreme Court, which might not rule until 2016.

Kansas education leaders fear a new revenue forecast requiring the state to make $278 million dollars in cuts this fiscal year will result reductions in school funding.

The state's fiscal situation is expected to be discussed at a Kansas Board of Education meeting on Wednesday. Board member Janet Waugh says education spending in the state already is down to the bare bones.

State Department of Education officials say they don't think Brownback or the Legislature plan to cut K-12 spending because of statements they have made that indicated education would not be targeted.

Stephen Koranda

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has unveiled some education goals he'll push for if he's reelected to a second term in office. Brownback says he'll aim for 60 percent of Kansas adults to have a college degree or technical certificate. As Stephen Koranda reports, the events in Topeka and the Kansas City area also touched off a clash over education funding.

Brownback touted funding increases during his time in office, specifically money targeted at technical education programs.

A commission will be working over the coming months to look for possible ways Kansas schools could more efficiently use tax dollars. The group is made up of former lawmakers, education officials and members of advocacy groups like the Kansas Policy Institute.

Those on the commission don't always see eye-to-eye on education issues.

The group elected former advertising executive and Wichita Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sam Williams to head the commission. He says he'll be working to get everyone on the same page.

The Kansas State Board of Education is proposing a $459 million increase in state spending on public schools, though the board’s approval Tuesday of budget recommendations was mostly a symbolic statement of support for education.

The board’s proposals would phase in over two years an increase of about 13 percent in aid to public schools beginning in July 2015, but funding the full amount would require the state to reconsider personal income tax cuts enacted by Governor Sam Brownback and Republican lawmakers.

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