MARATHON DEBATE JUMPSTARTS K-12 EDUCATION FINANCE
With less than two weeks left in the 2006 Legislative session, the House had its first debate on K-12 school finance. A coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans passed a plan on Final Action to boost school funding by a vote of 64 to 61. I supported the plan because I believe it makes an honest attempt to address challenges in educating Kansas’ at-risk student population. The new plan will phase in a $610 million increase in aid to Kansas public schools over three years.
The House debated the bill for nearly 8 hours before finally passing it. The final plan came in the form of an amendment to a bill that only included a one-year funding increase, an approach that I believe would have been rejected by the Kansas Supreme Court. Here are some of the highlights of the plan:
- All day Kindergarten funded (versus presently funded for only half day) for an additional cost of $69,200,000 over a three year period;
- Special Education excess costs funded at 92% (now 89.3%) for an additional cost of $80,300,000 over a three year period;
- Correlation weighting is changed to “high enrollment weighting” and is designed to close the gap in funding between low enrollment districts (now those 1662 students or smaller) by adding funding to the 56 districts that do not receive low enrollment weighting.
- This has an additional cost of $42,600,000 over a three year period;
- 2006-07–$50 base state aid per pupil (BSAPP) for $28,450,000, additional at-risk and high density at-risk student monies totalling $67,200,000, and additional LOB authority equalized to 30% costing $37,000,000;
- 2007-08–$49 on BSAPP for $28,800,000, additional at-risk and high density at-risk student monies totalling $63,400,000, and additional LOB authority equalized to 33% costing $37,000,000.
- 2008-09–$35 on BSAPP for $20,000,000, and additional at-risk and high density student at- risk monies totalling $71,900,000.
Increases for the 2006-07 school year for area school districts under this plan would amount to $195,021 for Baldwin, $2,528,150 for Lawrence, $193,491 for Wellsville, and $625,814 for Ottawa.
The bill would also require that the State Board of Education submit an annual report to the Legislature showing in detail improvement in student proficiency attributable to the increase in state funding beginning last year. The bill would further require each district to conduct a needs assessment and use the results in its budget preparations. Districts would also be required to report the number of at risk students served by state approved at risk programs as well as the number of students eligible for funding.
This plan will hopefully start meaningful discussions between House and Senate negotiators to find a solution that addresses the educational needs of Kansas’ at-risk schoolchildren. And with only a few days left in the regular session, it will also go a long way in determining if we’re headed for another special session this summer.
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