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Kansas School Finance

Posted Date: 05/01/2018

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Good morning,

Yesterday, the Senate passed a school funding bill "fix" sent to them by the House of Represenatives who had passed the bill on Saturday.  The "fix" was overwhelmingly approved in both houses correcting a mistake embedded in at law passed three weeks ago that would have cut an $80 million chunk out of school fiance, impacting all districts in the state.  The mistake would have cut more than half of the revenue to our district in the funding bill which was originally "intended" by the legislature.  The fix now goes to the Governor who has promised to sign the bill quickly.

The bill boosts school finance by $525 million to Kansas districts over 5 years.  It distributes money into district general funds by increasing the "base" state aid per pupil from $4,006 where it is currently, to $4,165 next year.  The BASE will continue to increase each subsequent year until 2022-23 when the base will be $4,713.  Following that year the BASE will increase by the Midwest Consumer Price Index which generally rises from 1.5%-2.5% each year.

Not all of the "new" money is general fund money.  A large portion of the "new" money is Special Education "flow through" money, which goes directly to entities that supply special education services to districts.

The Gannon 5 case (which is what this is all about) in front of the Kansas Supreme Court still looms large.  Briefs have to be filed by next Monday, rebuttals are scheduled for May 10th and oral arguments in the case will be held May 22nd.  It is uncertain if the Supreme Court will make a ruling swiftly as they have done in the past.  They have set a June 30th date for their final opinion to be released.

Until that time, it is anyone's guess whether or not the school finance bill (and the fix) recently passed by the legislature will be found to be constitutional.  My opinion is that the court will not find the new law to meet, at least, the adequacy requirement set forth by the Court and will maintain jurisdiction over the case until the legislature remedies the issues.  I am also leery of the 5 year phase in of additional revenue.  The Supreme Court has shown a precedent of only allowing 3 year phase in in the past.  But, this is only a guess.  I do believe that the Supreme Court always shows deference to schools and utilizes extreme caution and levelheadedness when making its rulings.  In short, I believe their ruling will not harm Kansas schools.

The link below is a video made by a Kansas high school student.  It is very well made and explains the process which has brought us up to the current time in great detail.  It is a short watch, but I would encourage you to view it when you have time.  It will help make sense of everything that is transpiring around the school finance decision.

Richard Proffitt, Superintendent, USD 413, Chanute Public Schools