State Board to consider Gannon funding, school safety grants, more

The Kansas State Board of Education has a busy agenda for its July meeting Tuesday and Wednesday, highlighted by a discussion of a budget request to address the Kansas Supreme Court’s latest Gannon school finance decision. 

The board will also take action to allocate nearly $5 million in school safety grants approved by the 2018 Legislature. Here is a link to the board’s agenda and support materials. 

In June, the court basically accepted the Legislature plan to achieve constitutionally suitable funding by adding over $500 million in state foundation aid and special education funding. However, the court said if that amount is phased-in over five years, as the Legislature approved, it must be adjusted for the impact of inflation. The court gave the Legislature until next June 30 to comply. 

Kansas State Department of Education school finance staff has proposed a way of complying with the decision using the methodology the state presented to the court for an inflation adjustment between 2010 and 2017. It would require adding a further $90 million in base state aid per year in 2020 through 2023, on top of approximately $105 million per year in base state aid increases already approved. 

Under the state budget system, the Governor presents, and Legislature approves, a two-year budget in odd-numbered years, which is then modified in the following year. The current fiscal year 2019, ending next June 30, is the second year of the two-year budget cycle. The 2019 Legislature will adopt a new budget for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021. However, the Legislature’s five-year budget plan passed this year to address the Gannon case provided statutory increases in base state aid for the next four fiscal years: 2020 through 2023. 

The focus of the court’s interest appears to be base state aid per pupil. The State Board will also consider requests in state equalization aid for local option budgets, bond and interest, and capital outlay. The Supreme Court has previously ruled the Legislature must fund these programs to maintain equity in school tax rates. The board will also consider requests for other aid such as special education, parent education, teacher mentoring and professional development, and numerous other small programs and grants. 

In addition, the 2019 Legislature approved over $21 million in targeted programs that are not part of state law or previous state board requests. The largest are $10 million to pilot school and community mental health programs in certain school districts; $5 million for match school safety grants; and $2.8 million to allow each junior and senior in high school the opportunity to take the ACT and/or Workkeys assessment one time at the state’s expense. 

For the $5 million appropriated by the Legislature for school safety grants, the State Board received nearly $13 million in requests from 153 school districts. District must match these funds on a dollar-for-dollar basis. KSDE staff is recommending that these requests be prorated equally, so each district would receive approximately 38 percent of its request. 

The board will also receive a briefing on Teach for America (TFA), a nonprofit organization and a member of the AmeriCorps National Service network. TFA recruits individuals with a bachelor’s degree to teach for at least two years in a public or public charter K-12 school in one of the communities the organization serves. The Kansas Legislature appropriated $520,000 for FY 2019 to launch a TFA program in Kansas.  

The funding will be used to recruit and train new teachers to teach in low-income, urban communities, with Kansas City being the focus for this year. 

Other major items on the State Board’s July meeting agenda include: 

  • Act to adopt model standards for Social, Emotional and Character Development. 
  • Act on accreditation status of two public school districts and five private schools. 
  • Approval of Professional Practices Commission recommendations and commission appointments. 

Act on superintendent positions for Kansas School for the Deaf and Kansas State School for the Blind and approve negotiated agreement with Kansas State School for the Deaf NEA. 

  • Receive information on Kansans Can vision outcomes: Individual Plan of Study, Graduation and Postsecondary Completion/Attendance. 

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