Talk of reforming the school finance law makes Eudora school district Superintendent Don Grosdidier nervous.
“The school finance formula is good. It just needs to be funded at the levels that are adequate to meet the levels of everybody,” Grosdidier said.
Recent budget cuts to schools have reduced the base state aid per pupil from $4,492 to $4,012, and continued funding is a major theme running through races for governor and the Legislature.
To discuss school finance issues, the Eudora district will have a forum open to the public at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Eudora Elementary School.
Since the state started assuming a much larger role in school finance, the Eudora district has improved greatly, Grosdidier said.
“This community has probably benefited as much as any community in Kansas from the school finance formula,” he said. “We are very dependent on the equalized portions of state aid.”
In the early 1990s, the state finance formula was changed to reduce the inequities in funding between property-rich and property-poor districts. Several years ago, under orders from the Kansas Supreme Court, the Legislature changed the finance formula further to increase funding, especially for students at risk of failing.
In the governor’s race, front-runner Republican Sam Brownback has said he wants to change the school finance formula again, but has declined to provide any details. Democrat Tom Holland says that what Brownback has in mind will be a system that will rely more on local property taxes and increase the inequities between districts.
Eudora, with about 1,500 students, is one of those districts that would fall behind if the responsibility for funding fell more on local property owners. A one-mill increase in Eudora would generate about $56,000 in revenue, while a one-mill increase in a more affluent neighboring district would produce $400,000.
Grosdidier said he doesn’t want to go back to the old finance method.
“We’ve made so much progress in this state,” he said. “We rank high in all academic measures. I’m just very anxious about making significant changes on financing and the impact it will have on a lot of us.”