Kansas K-12 Public School Financial Issues
The last few months the K-12 Public schools have faced some huge issues in regards to finances and over-all school budgets. I thought I would just re-cap some of these issues in case you have been South for the Winter.
On December 30, 2014, the Shawnee County District Court released a long-awaitedGannon opinion on the adequacy of K-12 school funding in Kansas. The Kansas Supreme Court, earlier this year, sent the case back to the district court to consider the issue of whether students were receiving a constitutionally adequate education based on the Rose standards. In short, the Court consisting of a three-judge panel substantially agreed with the plaintiffs and in a 139-page opinion said the state is not adequately funding education and the finance system was unconstitutional. The judges didn’t order legislators to increase funding by a specific amount but suggested an increase in base state aide per pupil that would total $548 million more per year. If the funding formula would have been followed as ordered earlier by the Court, the BSAPP (Base State Aid Per Pupil) would have been $4,980. This is quite a difference compared to the current $3,852 per student we are receiving. For USD223, that would have been an additional $395,928 for this year alone.
As you may know, for the current fiscal year, the state faces a $280 million revenue shortfall and going into next fiscal year will face a $648.3 million revenue shortfall. The situation worsened last week when it was announced state revenues fell $47 million below estimates in January. And if you listened to Governor Brownback’s State of the State speech, he said much of this shortfall is due to overspending on K-12 education. Which makes me wonder how this is possible when for the past five years the State has been unconstitutionally underfunding K-12 education. This is a bit perplexing. Because of these spending increases, Brownback has said he is working with legislators to make changes in the school finance formula. In doing this he has proposed paying school districts “block” grants and throwing all weightings out. Thus, no additional money would be sent to districts for the transportation of students, at-risk students, bilingual students, or for lower enrollment schools, etc. Most school districts, in particular, small school districts are concerned with the Governor’s new finance formula.
In one of his many promises, Governor Brownback promised that there will be no cuts in K-12 education for the remainder of this current school year – however, there is a bill that is currently passing through the Capitol that will challenge that promise. Senate Bill 71, which amends the method for computing supplemental general state aid (local option budget), was introduced by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on January 26, 2015. A hearing was scheduled for this bill this week and we are waiting to hear the outcome as this could be crucial for many school districts if current school budgets will need to be reduced once again.
There is much to be decided in the next few months with the over-all state budget which has direct impact on K-12 funding. Sure makes a person want to move South for the Winter.
Brian Cordel, USD223 Superintendent