Brownback announces changes he would like to see in school finance

Gov. Sam Brownback on Thursday announced changes he wants in a proposed new school finance formula, including expansion of school choice.

Brownback’s statement released to the media came on the 104th day of the legislative session and just hours before House and Senate negotiators were poised to sit down to hammer out differences in the plans approved by each chamber.

“I appreciate the hard work of the House and Senate committees this session on this enormous and vitally important undertaking,” Brownback said. “However, I do believe there remains some room for improvement.”

Before the final bill reaches his desk for consideration, Brownback said he wants to expand educational opportunities available to the lowest performing 25 percent of students; a limitation on bond and interest aid; and a five-year sunset provision to review the effectiveness of the new education finance system.

The Legislature faces a June 30 deadline from the Kansas Supreme Court to provide an adequate level of school funding.

In his statement, Brownback added: “Providing Kansas parents and students with more opportunities will ensure that low performing students have the ability to move to a school that meets their specific needs. In the year 2017 we should reject the idea that a child’s zip code will determine their opportunities in the future. Innovative school programs will ensure that students who are performing in the lowest 25 percent will have the ability to find new paths to success.”

Brownback referenced proposals he has advocated in previous statements. Brownback has come out in favor of expanded school choice and merit pay for teachers.

After the state Supreme Court’s decision in March, Brownback stated: “If they (parents) believe a quality education is not possible in their local public school, they should be given the opportunity and resources to set their child up for success through other educational choices.”

KASB has prepared a side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate school finance bills and KASB positions. Here is a link to that document. Here are links to the House bill (HB 2410) text and staff description, and the Senate bill (Senate Substitute for HB 2186) text and explanation.

Overall, the House bill increases school funding by approximately $280 million over two years while the Senate bill adds $235 million.

 

 

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