education funding

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Officials with the Kansas Association of School Boards hope Kansas lawmakers will be able to avoid K-12 education funding cuts in the next legislative session.

Kansas tossed out the old school funding formula and replaced it with a temporary block grant system. Some funding increases were built into the block grants for next year. Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, has some concerns that lowered state revenues will make it tough to fund the block grants.

Stephen Koranda

A panel of Kansas lawmakers has been reviewing school spending and student performance. Some test scores have been flat or have dropped in recent years.

Republican Rep. Jerry Lunn says, at the same time, total education funding has increased.

“Does it make sense to then say ‘Well, we just need more money'? Because I think that’s the narrative that’s going to come out of this is, ‘We just need to spend more money.’ It’s not how much you spend, it’s how you spend it,” Lunn says.

Chris, flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Sam Brownback's administration is recommending against granting emergency state aid to most Kansas school districts that plan on seeking funds at an upcoming meeting with lawmakers.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports superintendents were sent a message from the Kansas State Department of Education on behalf of the Division of Budget. The message says giving certain districts extra aid would not benefit them until next year because school budgets for this fiscal year have already been set.

Stephen Koranda file photo

A Kansas Statehouse committee is studying education spending to lay the groundwork for writing a new school funding formula. Lawmakers tossed out the old spending plan earlier this year and went to a temporary block grant system. Republican state Representative Ron Highland says they’re hoping to craft a new school funding formula next year.

“That’s what I’m hearing from leadership. (There are) a lot of complicating factors, election year and those things, but we put ourselves on a two-year time table and we have to work on it,” says Highland.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

A group of Kansas lawmakers Friday took a deep look at teacher salaries and benefits. The panel is gathering information to help legislators write a new school funding formula.

Republican Representative Ron Highland says they’re studying student performance and how state education money is spent, but the committee itself won’t be writing the new school funding plan.

“We’re going to gather the information and then the money wonks they will be working on that, but they’ve got to have this information to solidify what they want to do,” he says.

The state's new Commissioner of Education says schools need to become more focused on the student, not the system.

While Commissioner Randy Watson says that "sounds simple," he added that it is "extremely hard."

Watson spoke to a gathering Thursday of more than 100 school administrators and board members in Salina as part of a regional meeting of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Stephen Koranda File Photo

Gov. Sam Brownback says work on a new formula for funding Kansas' public schools should focus on how local districts spend their money, create incentives to shift dollars into classroom instruction and encourage merit pay for teachers.

The Republican governor said during an Associated Press interview that he'd like the GOP-dominated Legislature to draft a new formula next year. It would determine how the state distributes the bulk of its aid the 286 districts, now more than $4 billion.

Stephen Koranda

A state panel has approved a total of $6 million in additional funding for Kansas school districts. Nearly 40 districts requested money to cover lower property values or climbing enrollment. As Stephen Koranda reports, the districts received around half of what they were asking for.

The panel trimmed back the requests for the so-called “extraordinary needs” funding to make sure they were really focusing on out-of-the-ordinary situations.

DoDEA Pacific, flickr Creative Commons

Top Republican legislators are asking Kansas school districts seeking extra state aid to provide information about how they've become more efficient in recent years.

Four GOP legislative leaders sent a letter Wednesday to the superintendents of 38 school districts that have applied for extra aid under the state's new education funding law. The districts are seeking about $15 million in funds, but only $12.3 million is available under the law.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter after the state Department of Education sent it.

Stephen Koranda File Photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback urged school districts on Tuesday to move more money into the classroom and hold down the administrative costs of running their schools.

The Republican governor's comments came after he addressed educators at a training session in Wichita and lauded the Kansas Reading Roadmap initiative, a program that aims to improve reading levels in grades K-3.