School cost study says significant increase in funding needed to improve outcomes

The state may need to come up with an additional $2.1 billion over five years for public schools to address a Kansas Supreme Court ruling, according to the long-awaited school finance study released Friday. 

The study said to increase the graduation rate from 86 percent to 95 percent and bring 90 percent of students to grade level would cost nearly $1.8 billion more. To have a 95 percent graduation rate and 60 percent of students on track for college success would total nearly $2.1 billion in additional funding. 

Here is a link to the study and here is a link to the KASB Live discussion on it. 

Legislative leaders had commissioned the study to help address the Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the school finance system is inadequate. 

Following release of the study, Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, issued the following statement: “We have worked hard to comply with the court’s demands, however additional funds will not be possible without implementing another major tax increase on all Kansans and without continuing to short state needs such as health care, social services, transportation, and higher education. 

“There will be major losers at the end of this, and that will be either the Kansas taxpayers or other state services whose funding stream will be cut.” 

But Sen. Lynn Rodgers, D-Wichita, tweeted: “What will Kansas get by spending more on education? Higher wages, better workforce, more stable communities, attract and retain businesses. That’s why it’s called an investment.” 

The study’s authors, Lori Taylor, a professor at Texas A&M, and Jason Willis, a consultant with WestEd, will make a presentation to the House K-12 Education Budget Committee and Senate Select Committee on Education Finance at noon Monday. 

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