school funding

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Getting most Kansas schoolchildren doing well enough in math and reading to stay on track for college could cost an extra $2 billion a year — or roughly half of what the state already spends on aid to local schools.

The figure comes from a report released Friday that lawmakers commissioned to help them judge the costs of getting better classroom results and to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order.

Derek Gavey / flickr Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers are looking for ways to come up with cash to respond to a court ruling that says the state needs to spend more on schools. Currently, the House Tax Committee is considering a plan to raise property taxes.

The proposal would boost property taxes over three years, topping out with a $659 million increase. The plan met urban and rural opposition in a hearing on Tuesday. Realtors said the tax hike would make it harder to buy a home. It would also hit farmers by raising taxes on their land.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service, File Photo

Even before releasing their results, consultants hired to guide Kansas lawmakers to a school funding plan that meets legal muster endured a grilling on Friday.

How, wondered lawmakers, would the consultants reach their conclusions on how much money school districts need to help students succeed academically? Why do the consultants seem to be excluding the overhead — non-classroom expenses of running schools — from their study? And what about criticism of work they’d done in other states?

Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas lawmakers head into the next stretch of this year’s legislative session after advancing bills offering tax breaks to some smaller businesses, compensation to people thrown in prison unjustly and a welcome mat to industrial chicken growers.

The bigger, harder questions before them remain unanswered. Since gaveling out on Thursday, they're taking off a few days.

Larry Darling, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas legislators see plenty of needs for spending across state government and are starting to complain that a court mandate puts schools first in line.

Prison staffing, state mental hospitals and highway projects are among the items lawmakers would like to fund. But an October state Supreme Court ruling that the $4 billion-plus the state spends on schools each year isn't adequate means that most conversations about money at the Statehouse revolve around schools.

Kansas News Service/File photo

The Kansas State Board of Education has approved an audit of how state funds are distributed to public schools following questions about the allocation of some dollars.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the board accepted a recommendation Tuesday from Education Commissioner Randy Watson. The review is expected to start within two months and will examine whether funds are distributed in keeping with the state's school funding law.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Imagine, teacher Shauna Hammett tells first-graders gathered around a small table, a train whistle.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

Newly installed Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer described his state Wednesday as vibrant but with trouble spots, telling lawmakers he plans to tackle its problems.

Colyer promised to reform the state’s struggling foster care system, improve its privatized Medicaid program, open government activities into clearer public view and help more Kansans find jobs.

WLADYSLAW / WIKIMEDIA-CC

The Kansas Education Department will continue distributing millions in bus funding despite a recent audit that says the payments are barred under current state law.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the state Board of Education says it will keep paying for school districts' bus operations under the same formula it's been using for decades until instructed otherwise. A January independent audit of how transportation aid to districts had been distributed says the formula is based on a law repealed in 1973.

Christine H. / flickr Creative Commons

Over five years, the bus money that Kansas doled out to schools — that auditors say it shouldn’t have without legislative permission — totaled $45 million.

It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $4 billion a year that the state spends on public schools.

With so much at stake — the state’s single largest budget item — the system is drawing fresh looks.

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