Financing Schools

Audit raises issues in at-risk funding; KSDE defends practices

The Kansas Legislative Post Audit Division released a report Monday criticizing the State Department of Education’s oversight and guidance of the state’s $413 million program to support academically at-risk students. KSDE strongly disagreed.  The audit is one of series of studies commissioned by the Kansas Legislature in response to the Gannon school finance case. At-risk funding is particularly important because a key part of the Gannon case was that too many Kansas students are failing to meet state academic standards.  In addition, the “high density” at-risk weighting factor, which accounts for about $50 million in at-risk aid targeted at districts with higher...

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KASB conference concludes with officers elected, legislative report approved

Delegates at the 102nd annual KASB Conference on Sunday elected officers and approved a legislative report that will guide KASB advocacy efforts for 2020.  The actions, along with inspiring words from Chad Foster, who overcame blindness as a young man, concluded the conference in which more than 500 education leaders from across Kansas, met, learned, shared and discussed major education issues facing Kansas during more than 40 breakout sessions, workshops, school visits and a vendor show.  In addition, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson; Tim Hodges, director of research at Gallup polling; KASB President Shannon Kimball, Lawrence USD 497, and KASB Executive...

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Updated school funding estimates cut costs to state

The school finance formula adopted in response to the Gannon lawsuit will cost the state less than expected over the next several years, according to new estimates from the Kansas Department of Education, Division of Budget and Legislative Research Department.  In a memo presented Tuesday to the Legislative Budget Committee, KLRD staff say they now believe the major K-12 state aid programs will need $32.9 million less in the current year than projected last Spring, and $32.6 million less next year.  The State Board of Education has recommended that any savings in formula be used to increase special education state aid,...

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Tax Reform Council leaders tell KASB workshop they are seeking budget stability

The leaders of the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform said Friday their recommendations will seek to help stabilize the state’s finances after years of upheaval that followed Gov. Sam Brownback’s drastic income tax cuts. Those tax cuts were overturned in part in 2017 after years of budget shortfalls, but problems remain in the state budget to fund education, social services public safety and roads. “We are still not out of the woods,” said Steve Morris, who is co-chair of the tax reform council and is a former state Senate president. Co-Chair Janis Lee, also a former state senator, said she would...

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Governor’s Tax Council to consider food sales rebate and property tax relief

Following public testimony, the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform seems likely to propose several targeted tax changes for the upcoming Legislature session, while preparing for a more comprehensive strategy for its final report next year.  Co-chair Steve Morris, former Kansas Senate President from Hugoton, recommended Thursday the council focus on two issues at its next meeting in December: a food sales tax rebate and funding a program to lower property taxes statewide.  The 2020 Legislature is expected to also consider proposals to reduce income taxes for Kansans who had increases due to changes in the federal tax code, look at taxation...

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KASB to testify to tax reform panel; co-chairs will discuss panel’s work at KASB event on Friday

Gov. Laura Kelly’s Council on Tax Reform on Thursday will receive testimony from KASB and others and the council’s co-chairs will discuss the panel’s work Friday morning at KASB’s School Finance and Budgeting Seminar.  For information about the KASB event, including agenda and registration, click here.  The tax council was established to study both short- and long-term issues in the Kansas tax system. The Governor appointed as co-chairs former Republican Senate President Steve Morris and former Democratic Senator Janice Lee, as well as current KASB President Shannon Kimball, board member for Lawrence USD 497. Here is a link to information about...

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Vaping, dyslexia, legislative agenda on tap for State Board of Education meeting

The State Board of Education on Tuesday will receive recommendations on curbing e-cigarette use and improving ways to help students with dyslexia. Here is a link to the State Board’s agenda and background materials. The E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force will provide a final draft on keeping tobacco and vaping products out of schools. The task force will also update the board on the Tobacco 21 initiative, which would increase the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The dyslexia recommendations are aimed at improving pre-service teacher programs, professional learning of teachers already in the classroom, screening...

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State revenue estimates increased $525 million over two years. What does that mean for schools?

State budget and tax experts said Thursday the Kansas state general fund should take in $220 million more than earlier expectations in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, and $305 million more next year. Here is the update.  Consensus Revenue Estimates are updated by Legislative Research staff, the Budget Division and Department of Revenue, and university economists in April and November. The Governor uses the November estimate to develop budget recommendations to the Legislative session beginning in January. The Legislature uses the April estimate to adopt a budget.  The new estimate dramatically changes the state general fund (SGF) outlook...

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Now may be a good time to invest in actual school buildings

By Rob Gilligan, rgilligan@kasb.org In March of 2016, the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council released its report “State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities” in collaboration with the 21st Century School Fund and the National Council on School Facilities. In its analysis, the Center indicated that at that time, Kansas was underspending on facilities and there was a projected gap of about $356 million annually or approximately $731 per student. Coming out of the 2008 recession, and mired in a legal battle over state school finance that saw a decrease in the equalization aid the State...

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