SCHOOL FUNDING STALL
Until school funding is settled there will no final budgets for the rest of the Kansas budget. The Senate and House education committees are meeting occasionally but everyone is waiting for a legislative commissioned cost study by Dr. Lori Taylor from Texas. At the same time the Legislature is lawyering up by hiring Jeff King to represent the Senate and a lawyer to be named for the House. The cost
study is to be delivered on March 15 and then subjected to lawmaker review before final conclusions are drawn. The timing is important since the Kansas Supreme Court has ordered oral arguments on April 30 to debate the new school funding plan and rule on its constitutionality by July 1. Kansas’ new Governor Jeff Colyer promised that schools would be properly funded and in no case would public schools close down after July 1. Governor Colyer will give his own version of a ‘State of the State’ address before the Legislature on February 7. Hopefully at that time there will a specific funding proposal.
Governor Brownback’s budget proposed new school funding of $513 million over five years. Mark Tallman, Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) Associate Executive Director/Advocacy, spelled out a plan by KASB to provide an additional $600 million over three years. $255 million would enhance programs for at-risk students, increase the graduation rate and help students better prepare to succeed after high school thus responding to the Kansas Supreme Court’s concern over underperforming students.
$90 million would be used to increase teacher salaries that have fallen behind several neighboring states. The remaining $255 million over three years will simply keep up with a projected inflation rate of 1.9% on the state school budget of $4.4 billion. Average Kansas teacher salaries declined from $52,237 in 2010 to $47,984 – a loss of $4,253 due to inflation for the 37,812 teachers and licensed
support positions. Mark Tallman’s report was released on January
Education Bills Introduced
Five bills concerning school districts were introduced Feb. 7. KASB staff is continuing to analyze other bills for their impact on education.
HB 2653 – Income tax; relating to credits; educational expenses made by certain school employees. The bill would provide a 20% tax credit for expenses for tuition at an educational institution for the taxpayer’s education or certification necessary for a new position within a unified school district. Such credit may not be taken until five years after the qualified taxpayer has completed additional education or certification and commenced work at the new position. Referred to the House Taxation Committee.
HB 2690 – Kansas school transparency act. Referred to the House K-12 Education Budget Committee. First, beginning in 2021, the Department of Education is directed to prepare and submit a report on the expenditures and revenues per student for each school. All expenditures of a school district shall be allocated to the schools operated within such district. The report shall include: (1) total expenditures per student; (2) total revenues per student and revenues per student from federal, state and local sources; (3) revenues per student from state and local sources as a percentage of the total revenue for the school; (4) total expenditures per student as a percentage of total revenues per student; and (5) student learning outcomes, including outcomes for all students and for each subgroup of students.
Second, the State Board of Education is to determine the school financial efficiency rating for each school using a rating system based on the reported expenditures per student and the student learning outcomes for the school, using statewide assessments in math and reading. The efficiency rating shall be placed on the district website.
Third, the state board shall identify not less than 10 specific school expenditures that the state board deems useful for the purposes of benchmarking and comparison among schools, based on several factors.
HB 2692 – Requiring the provision of applied behavior analysis for students diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Requires school districts, upon request of the parents, to provide applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy for any student who has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, to the extent such therapy is ordered by a licensed physician, licensed psychologist or licensed specialist clinical social worker, provided there is a licensed clinician providing such therapy who is located within the territory of the school district.
The bill also sets up a mechanism to pay for these services, by creating a fund equal to $4 per student. However, the cost of the school district is not limited to state reimbursement. The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
HB 2697 – Amending the transportation weighting calculation. The bill would implement changes in the state transportation weighting by increasing the student multiplier from 2.8 to 5.0, as suggested by the Legislative Post Audit Division transportation study. This would increase transportation closer to the amount of actual costs determined by the LPA study. Referred to the House K-12 Education Budget Committee.
The legislative process changes quickly in the last days of the session. Several advocacy groups offer Action Alerts to inform members when to support or oppose bills before they are voted on in committee or the full House/Senate. Click the name of the organization below to sign up for these action alerts:
Tax Reform: Rise Up Kansas
Public Education: KNEA
Douglas County Democratic Party Public Education Advocacy: email email@example.com