Monthly Archives: March 2005

The entire Legislature should be getting down to business this week on the K-12 education funding issue.  The full Senate will be debating the Senate’s education plan and the full House takes up the House Select Committee’s education bill.  The following is an overview of both bills.
The Senate Education Committee passed out a plan on February 22 that would provide a total of $441 million in increased funding for K-12 over the next three years.  The plan increases the BSAPP (Base State Aid Per Pupil) from $3,863 to $4,313 over a three year period for a total of $218 million.  The “at risk” weighting is increased from .1 to .25 over a three year period for a total of $87.3 million.  Bilingual weighting is increased over two years from .2 to .4 ($11.2 million), and special education excess cost funding is increased from 81.7% to 92% over three years ($70.7 million).  The plan also allows local school districts to increase their LOB from 25% to 30% over a three year period.  An earlier version of the plan originally had removed weighting for vocational education, but this was added back into the bill.  This plan also provides money for larger school districts by decreasing the enrollment cutoff from 1725 total students to 1700 total students.  Funding for the first year of the plan will come from existing revenues, but no funding sources have been specifically identified for the second and third years.
The House Select Committee on School Finance passed out a plan on February 24 that would provide approximately $142 million in increased state funding for K-12 education.  The plan adds $80 of new money per pupil to the BSAPP at a cost of $40 million.  The plan also folds $19.5 million from career and vocational education weighting as well as money from correlation weighting into the base.  Please keep in mind that this is not new money, however, as the plan is simply shuffling existing monies around in the formula.  The plan would add about $11 million for bilingual students and would expand the definition of “at risk” children to include those who qualify for a reduced lunch, thus adding another $18.6 million.  The plan increases funding for excess costs of special education for FY 2006 to 85%, FY 2007 to 88%, and thereafter at 90% ($17.7 million for FY 2006) and equalizes the first four mills of capital outlay ($15 million).
The plan would also include a 5% increase in the LOB (Local Option Budget) for all districts and allow an additional 5% increase in the LOB for those 16 school districts with the highest cost of living in the state.  This would allow the richest districts to lure away teachers from poorer Kansas districts.  Neither of these LOB increases would be equalized by the state.  This plan does not identify where the state-provided monies would come from.  It also relies heavily on local property taxes to fund education.  The plan would also add a provision that would require education spending to increase with the consumer price index and to be funded before the rest of the budget.
While I believe that the House Select Committee’s plan misses the mark in addressing the Supreme Court’s concerns regarding education funding, I also believe that the Senate’s education plan is a good start .  When crafting a school finance plan, we must ensure funding for this plan in future years without robbing ending balances or the transportation fund.
Otherwise, actions like that could threaten our state’s financial stability and credit rating.  We must also create a financing plan that will work in the years to come and not simply create a one-year “stop-gap” fix.

Paid for by Tom Holland for Kansas Senate
Kris Marsh, Treasurer