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Archive for Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kansas Senate panel stalls on governor’s school funding plan

February 21, 2012

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— The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday stalled in its work on Gov. Sam Brownback’s school finance overhaul.

Chairwoman Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, indicated if the committee manages to reach an agreement, its bill would probably differ drastically from Brownback’s plan.

Schodorf said the governor’s proposal is so complicated “it will take additional time to decide which parts of the bill we want.”

After two meetings working on the bill, Schodorf said the committee will resume its work next week.

Brownback’s plan would eliminate state limits on local property tax increases for education and would junk a system of providing extra funding to educate students who are at risk of failing. Brownback has said this will give local residents more say in how much is spent on schools and in what areas it is spent.

Brownback’s plan would provide no increase in funding for the next school year, and Schodorf said that is a problem because school funding has been cut the past three years.

Schodorf said she hopes the Legislature can provide an increase in funding to schools for the next school year, although she declined to say how much of an increase she would propose.

Education officials said Brownback’s school finance plan represents such a dramatic departure from the current method that it probably should be studied during the interim period between this legislative session and the 2013 legislative session.

Members of the Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas National Education Association and other groups urged the Legislature to consider putting off action on Brownback’s plan for the current legislative session.

Meanwhile, in the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, proposed allowing counties to raise local sales taxes for schools. He said his idea was in response to many officials who said they don’t have the capacity to raise property taxes any more.

But the idea failed to gain traction as legislators questioned how much funding the state would have to provide to try to equalize funding between rich and poor districts.

In other areas, the committee removed several portions of Brownback’s proposal and replaced them with current law.

Sen. Allen Schmidt, D-Hays, said the discussions reminded him of a creek that runs into itself.

“We are trying all different routes here that take us back to where we started,” Schmidt said.

Comments

Paul R Getto 2 years, 1 month ago

Good move. Slow this sucker down. Wait for some 'facts.' That would be a new approach in this faith-based system the Gov proposes. "Trust me" only goes so far.

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