Senate committee to begin work on school finance

The Kansas Legislature reconvenes after a short break Wednesday, when the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance holds its second hearing on a proposed inflation adjustment requested by the Kansas Supreme Court to resolve the Gannon school finance case. 

Earlier this session, the committee received testimony on SB 44, containing Governor Laura Kelley’s proposed budget for the Department of Education for the next two years. The bill also included adjustments to the base state aid per pupil amount over the next four years (2020 to 2023) as recommended by the State Board of Education response to the court. 

Since that hearing, Senate leaders separated the inflation adjustment into SB 142, which is the subject of Wednesday’s hearing, and put the rest of K-12 education funding into SB 147, which is making its way through the regular appropriations process in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.  

The hearing on SB 142 will also be the first since Schools for Fair Funding, representing the plaintiffs in the Gannon case and other school districts, withdrew its support for the earlier bill, saying the State Board’s proposal incorrectly calculates the inflation adjustment outlined by the court. 

The State Board’s proposal is based on adding $360 million dollars to funding already approved, using a methodology proposed by the Legislature to address the adequacy of school funding. The goal is to restore K-12 funding to its 2009 level, adjusted for inflation, by 2023. The court accepted that method but said the Legislature had failed to consider inflation over the phase-in period. 

The State Board plan adds an estimated $90 million each year to base amounts already rising under last year’s school finance plan, for a total of $360 million over four years. SFFF has indicated the amount should increase by $90 million each year over the previous year, or $900 million over four years. 

Put another way, under the plan adopted by the Legislature last session, the base per pupil would increase from $4,165 this year to $4,713 in 2023. Under the State Board plan recommended by the Governor, it would rise to $4,846. Under the SFFF approach, it would rise to $5,219. 

KASB supports the State Board proposal. Here is a link to KASB ‘s message to legislators on school funding, and KASB’s previous testimony on SB 44. 

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