Senate to debate school finance today

After a four-day break, the Legislature returns to action today with scheduled Senate debate on a school finance measure, Senate Substitute for HB 2186. The House passed a similar bill, HB 2410, last week.

Because the Senate Select Committee on School Finance amended its bill, originally SB 251, into the shell of a House bill, a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions could begin almost immediately. Less likely is that the House would simply agree to the Senate positions, sending the bill directly to Gov. Sam Brownback.

The two bills have moved closer in content as a result of House floor and Senate committee amendments last week. Both bills largely restore components of the school finance systems used from 1992 until 2015, when a two-year system of block grants was put into place. The block grant law expires June 30.

June 30 is also the deadline set by the Kansas Supreme Court for correcting constitutional “inadequacy” under the block grant system. The court specifically focused on approximately 25 percent of Kansas students the court found were not meeting appropriate performance standards. A disproportionate number of those students are low income, disabled or ethnic minorities.

Here is a link to the Senate bill text and supplemental note from the Kansas Legislative Research Department. Here is the House bill text and supplemental note, as amended by the full House last Wednesday.

KASB prepared this document with KASB’s schools finance positions adopted by members, a comparison of the provisions of the two bills, and specific concerns and concerns.

Finally, this Kansas State Department of Education webpage has links to KSDE descriptions of the bills and spreadsheets with data for individual districts.

The House bill is projected to increase school funding by $188 million next year and nearly $100 million more the following year. The Senate bill is projected to add about $168 million next year and $63 million more the following year. The major difference is that the House bill adds about $20 million more for a higher at-risk weighting factor and includes a higher base budget amount in the second year.

Under both bills, the base amount per pupil will be indexed to changes in the consumer price index after the first two  years. Based on recent experience, that would increase funding by about $55 million per year.

These amounts do not include additional funding for Kansas Public Employee Retirement System contributions required to meet the current actuarial schedule and additional funding expected to be required if school funding is increased. It also does not include additional funding for state bond and interest and capital outlay aid.

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