KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

Report ranks Kansas high on education performance and college funding; lower on equity, state economy and finances

A new report says Kansas is in a better position than most states to meet future workforce education needs, but offers some warnings about educational equity, state economy and finance policies. The report indicates the Kansas education system, from pre-K through postsecondary, does relatively well in preparing students to complete high school, participate in postsecondary education and complete a degree or workforce credential – and does so at a fairly low cost. These conclusions are consistent with KASB’s Comparing Kansas report on educational attainment and K-12 funding. However, the report notes that all states are projected to fall short of projected educational needs. The report, College Opportunity at Risk: An Assessment...

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Kansas school property taxes lower than most other states

Local property taxes for public schools in Kansas are lower than most states in the region and nation, even including the state 20 mill levy. Property taxes are usually considered the most unpopular tax among voters and taxpayers, and concerns about higher property tax rates have been cited by some as a reason to amend the Kansas constitution’s school finance provisions. However, national data shows Kansas schools rely less on property taxes than most neighboring and Plains states and the national average. Data from the most recent Public Education Finance report for 2016 from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Kansas raises $2,191 per pupil from local property taxes, 37th...

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State Board proposal would adjust Legislature’s school funding for inflation

The Kansas Supreme Court’s latest Gannon decision said the Legislature’s most recent plan to provide constitutional school finance is acceptable if funding is added for future inflation. In July, the Kansas State Board of Education laid out a plan to do that. State attorneys told the Court the 2018 Legislature’s plan was based on the amount that should have been appropriated in 2010 – after action to address the earlier Montoy case but before budget cuts caused by the national recession. This method, called the “Montoy safe harbor,” adjusted for inflation between 2010 and 2017 and showed actual school funding was $763 million short in 2017. The state argued...

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State aid for school district bond projects: how it works, why it matters

Most people are aware that the state of Kansas provides help for some school districts to pay for construction bonds to build, remodel and equip schools and other district facilities. But they may not know the details of how the program works, or why it is important. Decades ago, before the state began assuming a larger role in school funding, schools were mostly funded through local property taxes. There are great differences among districts in the amount of taxable local wealth (called assessed valuation), especially when considering differences in the number of students each district enrolls and educates.  Assessed valuation per pupil ranges from just over $1,000 in Ft. Leavenworth,...

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School districts increase staff to help students, improve outcomes

Since 1998, the number of school district employees in Kansas has increased by over 9,500 full time equivalent positions, or about 16 percent. Student enrollment increased by over 22,000, or about five percent. Schools have added staff at a faster rate than students for three basic reasons: Reducing general class size, which helps improve student learning. Providing more intensive instruction for students with special needs, most significantly due to new requirements and more identification of special education students, but also for additional services to other at-risk students. The number of special needs students has grown much faster than regular enrollment. Additional expectations for...

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What Kansas education cost studies found and how they have been used by the courts

Some legislators, candidates and organizations are complaining that the Kansas Supreme Court, rather than the Legislature, is setting the level of school funding in the state. However, it is important to understand that the court’s decisions have relied almost entirely on the evidence in studies requested and paid for the by the Legislature itself. Since 2000, the Kansas Legislature has commissioned and funded three major education cost studies.  The first was conducted by the consultants Augenblick and Myers and released in 2001. It was commissioned by the Legislature before the Montoy case reached the courts. It used two methods – professional...

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