Archive for Monday, February 20, 2012

Senator proposes adding funds to Brownback’s school finance plan

February 20, 2012


— A Republican senator on Monday tried to increase support for Gov. Sam Brownback's school finance overhaul by adding $41.8 million to the plan.

State Sen. Steve Abrams of Arkansas City said his proposal would allocate the funding based on the number of students in each district who are deemed at risk of failing.

Abrams said he realized many districts — approximately half in the state, including Lawrence — would see no funding increase under Brownback's proposed school formula changes. Under Abrams' plan, those districts would see some increase in the 2013-14 school year, including $696,578 for the Lawrence district.

Abrams rolled out his proposal during the Senate Education Committee, which is working on Brownback's school finance bill.

Chairwoman Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, said Abrams' proposal needed more study. "I'm a little speechless about the amount," she said. The committee will continue working on school finance Tuesday.

Other committee members noted that Abrams' plan changed the definition of at-risk students in a way that could shortchange districts with a high percentage of low-income students.

Currently, school districts receive additional education funds for children who receive free lunch based on their families' low income. Abrams would change that to distributing at-risk funds based on the number of students who score less than the proficient level on statewide assessments in reading and math.

In addition, under Abrams' plan, Brownback's proposal to eliminate state limits on local property taxes for schools would continue. Critics say that would increase the disparity between rich and poor districts and be declared unconstitutional.

"It blows the lid," on local budgets, said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka. "That's a non-starter for me."

Mark Desetti, a lobbyist for the Kansas National Education Association, said Brownback's plan is so complex that legislators should study it further during the interim period between the end of this legislative session and the start of the 2013 session.


chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

"Currently, school districts receive additional education funds for children who receive free lunch based on their families' low income. Abrams would change that to distributing at-risk funds based on the number of students who score less than the proficient level on statewide assessments in reading and math."

More students with low scores = more funding? What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

Basing the percentages on the number of kids on free/reduce lunches puts the funding with the group most likely to need the help. If they manage to start doing well on test scores, they're doing better than their statistical cohorts.

Dave Trabert 6 years, 3 months ago

According to KSDE, districts are already receiving more At Risk money than they are spending. The unencumbered carryover cash balance in K-12 At Risk funds hit an all-time high of $41.5 million last July; that was up from $28.6 million in 2010 and $17.4 million in 2009. Unless one believes that districts are deliberately NOT spending money on services they believe are necessary (I don't), one can only conclude that the current formula allocates more money than districts need to provide necessary services.

As shown at USD 501 increased their carryover balance in that fund by more than a million dollars last year.

Districts are not losing weighted funding in the proposed formula; the money is simply being put into a larger beginning per-pupil number. And for the record, I am not saying this to provide support for the proposed formula. There are certainly some things like providing districts more flexibility that seem to make good sense but we (Kansas Policy Institute) are Neutral on the proposed formula change because there are also quite a few aspects of the bill with which we disagree.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

Introducing Dave Trabert, spokesperson for the KPI, a Koch-funded "think" tank (aka propaganda generating machine) also serves on committee for ALEC ( ). Also part of a Koch-funded astroturf movement to defund schools in favor of vouchers and charters. The link he spammed is part of his network.

Yes, Dave, the schools could be hoarding money because they know that people like you are working behind the scenes to defund them, and they're hoping that they can ration money during the lean times instead of being cut completely off. Or they could be doing so for reasons you're not stating. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen you deliberately obfuscate facts and frame figures in the way that most fits your propaganda objectives.

Yes, changes in the school funding formula that allow rich districts to raise more money do worsen the achievement gap. That's something I know you know, because I've seen you try to sell your Koch/Friedman ideology with data showing the correlation.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

Does anyone know what Gov. Sam Brownback is doing with the millions of dollars he is pulling from public education? His rainy day fund response is a bit stinky.

One sure way to kill public education is to keep reducing the number of dollars going into the system to the point the system can no longer function to meet demand/expectations.

Sam Brownback is a promoter of privatizing public schools so that more and more and more of our tax dollars can be spent on corp america. Then public school dollars can become part of the corrupt special interest campaign spending mess. Then more public education dollars can be spent on CEO's,shareholders and golden parachutes.

Does anyone know what Gov Sam Brownback is doing with the millions of dollars he is pulling from public education? His rainy day fund response is a bit stinky.

Dave Trabert 6 years, 3 months ago

According to KSDE, the State of Kansas spent $2.868 billion on aid to public schools in 2010. Last year the total was $2.962 billion and this year is even higher, at $3.157 billion. The proposed funding formula would further increase state aid to public schools.

Money is not being 'pulled' from public's being added. Perhaps not as much as some would like, but state taxpayers are spending more money on public schools.

texburgh 6 years, 3 months ago

Dave Trabert: Koch's mouthpiece in Topeka. Dave Trabert: Laffer's mouthpiece in Topeka.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

Huh, interesting that he doesn't mention 2008 and prior year levels or how previous spending was recently backfilled with federal stimulus money that won't be available again. I guess because "state taxpayers are spending more money on public schools" is technically accurate without being honest.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 3 months ago

You're copy/pasting yourself within a single post? That's a reach even for you, merrill.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 3 months ago

ALEC Private Schools

Corporate Education Reformers Plot Next Steps at Secretive Meeting

ALEC Education "Academy" Launches on Island Resort by Dustin Beilke

Today, hundreds of state legislators from across the nation will head out to an "island" resort on the coast of Florida to a unique "education academy" sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). There will be no students or teachers.

Instead, legislators, representatives from right-wing think tanks and for-profit education corporations will meet behind closed doors to channel their inner Milton Friedman and promote the radical transformation of the American education system into a private, for-profit enterprise.

What is ALEC Scoring on Its Education "Report Card?"

Little is known about the agenda of the ALEC education meeting taking place at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. The meeting is not open to the public and recently even the press has been kicked out of meetings and barred from attendance. So to understand the ALEC agenda with regard to education, it is important to examine ALEC's education "scorecard."

Imagine getting a report card from your teacher and finding out that you were graded not on how well you understood the course material or scored on the tests and assignments, but rather on to what extent you agreed with your teacher's strange public policy positions. That is the best way to understand the American Legislative Exchange Council's 17th Report Card on American Education released last week.

The report card's authors are Matthew Lardner, formerly of the Goldwater Institute, and Dan Lips, currently of the Goldwater Institute and formerly of the Heritage Foundation. They give every state's public schools an overall grade based on how they rate in 14 categories. Homeschooling, alternative teacher certification, charter schools, private school choice, and virtual learning make up 7 of the 14 categories. Of the other seven categories, two rate the states' academic standards and the other five have mostly to do with the way states retain "effective" teachers and fire "ineffective" ones.

ALEC's education bills encompass more than 20 years of effort to privatize public education through an ever-expanding....

kugrad 6 years, 3 months ago

This is all an attempt to underfund schools. 3, count 'em, 3 studies, all commissioned and controlled by Republican-controlled legislature in Kansas, have found schools dramatically underfunded. The legislature does not want to do their job because they have no allegiance to the people of Kansas - they don't serve us. They serve their masters - the small group of large donors who fund their campaigns. They serve Koch industries, their front groups the Kansas Policy Institute (propaganda institute is more like it) and Americans for Prosperity (for the 1% only).

Kids deserve better. Kansas deserves better.

Dave Trabert 6 years, 3 months ago

Please identify the 3 studies you believe show schools are underfunded.

jafs 6 years, 3 months ago


It's well known that the studies showed that, that's why there was a lawsuit which the plaintiffs won, requiring the legislature to fund the educational system as it's obligated to under the KS constitution.

They didn't do so, even after the decision, and the system is currently not funded at that level.

Dave Trabert 6 years, 3 months ago

That's what a lot of people think took place but the facts are quite different. The Augenblick & Myers cost analysis used by the Montoy courts was, by A&M's definition, supposed to take efficiency into account. Their successful schools model found 85 districts that were considered to academically successful but only 35 of those districts were considered (by A&M) to be efficient spenders. A&M should have based their analysis on those 35 districts that met ALL criteria of the successful schools model but they decided to include all 85 districts because excluding the other 50 "...might preclude the possibility that they were successful because they spent more money." An honest analysis would have produced lower spending numbers, so A&M changed their own rules.

The subsequent Legislative Post Audit study (by design) merely duplicated the A&M study. On page 2 of the study, LPA carefully points out they were not asked to and therefore did not attempt to determine what it would cost to achieve required outcomes AND have schools organized and operating in a cost-effective manner.

There has never been a study of that nature conducted in Kansas. The current formula nor any of the proposed changes are based on what schools need to achieve required outcomes AND have schools organized and operating in a cost-effective manner.

The Governor, Legislature and school districts should all be calling for such a study to be conducted and build a new formula based on those findings.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

The Legislative Post Audit Study? “..We can be more than 99% confident there is a relationship between spending and outcomes.”

I'd welcome an evidence-based study that was run by people who weren't puppets of the Koch agenda, but I'm afraid we'd actually end up with you, your AFP buddies, and Art Laffer. Brownback isn't interested in taking recommendations from actual experts. He just wants yes-men to repeat his conclusion back to him.

JackMcKee 6 years, 3 months ago

I propose a simple rule for good legislative policy. Do the opposite of whatever Brownback proposes. :heblowsalot#

Dave Trabert 6 years, 3 months ago

Chootspa - keep reading that LPA study...on page 107 they also said "Educational research offers mixed opinions about whether increased spending for educational inputs is related to improved student performance. Well-known researchers who have reviewed that body of research have come to opposite conclusions. Likewise, individual studies of specific educational inputs we reviewed sometimes concluded additional resources were associated with improved outcomes and sometimes concluded they weren't. Because of perceived shortcomings in many of the studies that have been conducted in these areas, many researchers think more and better studies are needed to help determine under which circumstances additional resources actually lead to better outcomes."

One of the biggest shortcomings of such studies is basing them on state assessment tests which are under complete control of state education departments. Had LPA conducted their review of Kansas districts using independent national assessments, they likely would have found no relationship between spending and achievement. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Kansas' test scores on Reading and Math are essentially unchanged between 1998 and 2011 but spending on Kansas public schools increased from $3.1 billion to $5.6 billion over that period.

chootspa 6 years, 3 months ago

Like I said, if you kept reading, is that I'd welcome an unbiased study on the issue, and I'd welcome a system that uses evidence-based practice for improved outcomes instead of reliance on tests. Unfortunately, we're not in a legislative climate that allows unbiased studies. Brownback would rather hire people to confirm his choices rather than find people to inform them. From what I've seen, you and he have much in common in that area.

Dave, are you citing NAEP scores? It's a favorite tactic of yours. There are many flaws for using NAEP for much of anything, and it's especially telling that you'd use 1998 instead of 2003.

TOPEKA – Reading and math scores from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released today, show that Kansas students’ scores have improved significantly since 2003, showing particularly strong gains in mathematics and among the English language learner (ELL) population. Measurement from 2003 is significant because it’s the year the state adopted new curricular standards and the first year the state achieved 100 percent participation from schools identified to participate in NAEP, ensuring the validity and reliability of the results.

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