education funding

Robert S. Digby, flickr Creative Commons

Teachers no longer would be exempt from criminal charges for showing students materials deemed to be harmful to minors under a bill given first-round approval in the Kansas Senate.

Teachers could be charged for any materials thought to be too sexual or too profane for minors.

Republican Senator Forrest Knox of Altoona said he supported the bill.

Knox says teachers should not be protected from showing materials that would draw penalties in other contexts.

The state of Kansas has filed an appeal of the ruling that found the state isn't spending enough money on its public schools.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced the filing on Wednesday.

The Shawnee County District Court panel declared in its December ruling that the current funding is "inadequate from any rational perspective of the evidence."

The panel said the evidence suggests base state aid should increase to at least $4,654 per student - which would amount to about $548 million dollars per year.

Wichita Public Schools

Governor Sam Brownback announced on Thursday that he was cutting funding for Kansas public schools at rate of 1.5 percent. That means a reduction of $28 million in funding across the board. KMUW’s Sean Sandefur reports how this might affect Wichita Public Schools…

The statewide cuts will take effect on March 7.

Wichita School Board President Sheril Logan says her district must clear $3 million from their budget, and they’ll need to do it quickly.

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.

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