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Archive for Friday, November 5, 2004

Gov. Sebelius to review public school efficiency

November 5, 2004

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— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Friday announced a proposal to review the efficiency of public schools.

"We need to work with districts and provide services and advice that make them as efficient as possible," Sebelius said at a news conference. "It's what's best for schools and taxpayers alike."

Sebelius was backed in the proposal by business leaders who are part of her hand-picked education group.

"By identifying efficiencies in schools, we can better invest in high-impact priorities such as teachers and technologies," Gary Forsee, chairman and chief executive of Sprint, said.

Under the plan, the Kauffman Foundation will contract with Standard and Poor's School Evaluation Services to establish a pilot program to review school district efficiency. The cost of the contract is expected to range from $300,000 to $330,000.

Standard and Poor's will use national, state and local data to establish performance benchmarks and identify efficient practices. It then will focus on four to six school districts in Kansas for a more comprehensive review.

Lawrence school Supt. Randy Weseman said he supported Sebelius' plan. He said the results of the study will probably provide evidence that most school districts are doing a good job managing their expenses.

"Over the past five years, my administration has pretty much focused on finding efficiencies, which has resulted in administrative rollbacks of over $1 million," Weseman said.

The Standard and Poor's work is expected to be completed during the legislative session next year.

The issue of school finance is a hot one. More than 50 percent of the state budget goes to public schools.

Last legislative session, Sebelius proposed a $300 million tax increase for schools, but the Legislature rejected the measure, in addition to numerous other school funding increases.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on a lower court decision that found the school finance system unconstitutional because it shortchanged all students, especially minorities and students with disabilities.

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