Archive for Wednesday, July 15, 2009

State Board of Education proposes $282 million increase in public school funding

July 15, 2009, 1:31 p.m. Updated July 15, 2009, 5:17 p.m.


— The State Board of Education on Wednesday recommended a $282 million increase to public schools to make up for a wave of budget cuts and comply with state laws designed to provide regular funding hikes.

“We are advocating for the future,” said Education Board Chairwoman Janet Waugh, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan. “The future is sitting in those classrooms.”

The proposal would increase base state aid from $4,218 per pupil to $4,492 per pupil, a 6.5 percent increase.

Several board members voiced concerns about asking for such an increase during the recession.

Kathy Martin, a Republican from Clay Center, suggested that the board pick a smaller increase to show support for taxpayers who are going through tough economic times.

But Sue Storm, a Democrat from Overland Park, said the board should act on behalf of schoolchildren. “We need to be responsible, but we need to be advocates,” Storm said. A former legislator, Storm said it was up to the Legislature to figure out where to get the money.

At the end of the discussion, only Walt Chappell, a Democrat from Wichita, voted against the proposal, saying the board did not have enough information to make a decision.

The recommendation will go to Gov. Mark Parkinson’s budget office for consideration.

Parkinson this month cut schools 2 percent, or $39 million, as part of $160 million in adjustments to balance the current fiscal year budget.

That is on top of cuts implemented by the Legislature and former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as state revenues have fallen throughout the year.

When the year started, base state aid was $4,433 per pupil, and was set to increase for the upcoming school year to as much as $4,597 per pupil under previously passed laws, which included a cost of living increase.

But after all the cutting was done, the school year will start with base state aid at $4,218 per pupil. Promised increases in special education and other areas have also been slashed. The cuts would have been worse without the infusion of federal stimulus funds.

Many of these promised increases were put into law after a bitterly contested lawsuit in which the Kansas Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to increase school funding.

Martin said she would not want school funding levels to fall so low to invite another lawsuit.

Board member David Dennis, a Republican from Wichita, said the request was not “pie in the sky” but necessary to produce an educated workforce in Kansas.

Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis said in response to budget cuts this year, school districts statewide have cut 3,700 positions and reduced other expenses to save $167.2 million.

Dennis said superintendents statewide have told him about having to let go of staff who were directly helping students. “I’ve never seen administrators any more emotional than I’ve seen recently,” he said.

The final decision on school funding will be reached by the Legislature and Parkinson in the 2010 legislative session, which starts in January.

Parkinson’s spokeswoman Beth Martino said the governor understood the budget situation was tough for “everyone involved, including schools.” She said Parkinson will consider all available options when putting together a budget proposal this fall, “but it is too soon to make any assumptions.”


Boston_Corbett 8 years, 6 months ago

more like an "ice cream sundae in the sky" ....better than pie.

budwhysir 8 years, 6 months ago

Well, I would say if the same trustworthy type of planning went into this state idea as all the others we have nothing to worry about. Kind of like cutting yer budget this year so you can have extra money next year. The problem with the plan is, the system is a credit system. We dont know how much money we will have in 2010, but we are going to go ahead and spend it now and dream about how we will make more and where it will come from

kugrad 8 years, 6 months ago

The KS Legislature has been playing a little game - well, honestly it is mostly Republican lawmakers (don't kill the messenger) - called "See how much you can cut the education budget without having the Feds deny you stimulus money for education." The intent of the stimulus was to enhance education (creating current jobs and future quality employees), but NOT for states to guy their budgets and use the stimulus money to fill the gap. Last spring, the Feds were using Kansas as an example of what NOT to do when planning next year's education budget. When some of our lawmakers say it is all about helping children, trust them like a snake, a bad snake.

mdrndgtl 8 years, 6 months ago

The future is sitting in those classrooms, unless the class is woodshop.

KsTwister 8 years, 6 months ago

Greed. When I see funds going for expensive non-academic school items instead of education then why ask for more? Someone is paying for your greed and we don't like it. The truth about politics in Kansas is that they are not out for their constituants but for themselves. Only them.

Dan Eyler 8 years, 6 months ago

We just spent four million tax dollars for new football fields with artificial turf so now we need another 286 million in new taxes for schools. For what? This clamber that its for the children is such a fraud. Wake up tax payers. Government is stripping you of your livelihood. These bureaucrats are rolling you like a cheap prostitute.

justthefactsmaam 8 years, 6 months ago

So the state as it is right now is looking at a budget next year that has an anticipated ending balance of more than $500 million in the red. Now the schools want an $280 million increase. So the legislature and Gov will have to come up with nearly $800 million just to have a zero ending balance. Sounds like a reasonable and responsible request, school board. Just tell us right now what taxes you want us to pay more in. Also tell the kids that you say this request is for, of what type of tax burden you envision them having when they hit the real world on their own. Be sure to tell them not to start a business in Kansas while you're at it.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 6 months ago

The request is a good starting point; not enough, but a good start.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 6 months ago

"Just tell us right now what taxes you want us to pay more in." == Good point; I would start with income and sales tax, then study all the exemptions and get rid of most of them. Those of us left to pay taxes (a relatively small percentage) are getting the shaft.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.