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Archive for Wednesday, July 4, 2012

State board urged to seek millions in school funding

July 4, 2012, 10:05 p.m. Updated July 4, 2012, 10:05 p.m.

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Topeka — Education advocates are urging the State Board of Education to request millions more in state tax dollars to fund public schools in Kansas, arguing that the money is needed to maintain recent achievement gains and a trained workforce.

Representatives of the Kansas National Education Association and Kansas Association of School Boards sent letters to the state Department of Education saying the funding request is in keeping with the 10-member state board’s duty to children.

Claudette Jones, executive director of the KNEA, which represents teachers statewide, advocated for full funding as called for in state law — which would mean more than $440 million alone in base aid to districts.

“Funding for schools must be both adequate and equitable,” Jones wrote in her organization’s letter. “The future of our state and our ability to attract and retain business investment is dependent on a well-educated, well-trained workforce.”

Staff presented the 10-member board with a list of budget ideas during its June meeting, including increases in base state aid per student, enhanced support systems and funding for teacher development. Board members haven’t discussed the proposals in public, though a public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday of next week.

Last year, the board sought hundreds of millions in additional spending for schools. Board Chairman David Dennis said at the time that members had an obligation to advocate for students and that nothing less than funding the state law would suffice. A phone call to his home Tuesday rang unanswered.

Decisions made at the July 10 board meeting will be forwarded in the fall to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration for inclusion in the 2014 budget request that will be presented to legislators in January.

Legislators approved about $40 million in increases in education spending in the budget that took effect July 1. It increased the base state aid per student by $58 to $3,838. That was the first increase in per-student spending since the 2008-2009 school year and reversed a string of reductions brought about by the state’s financial struggles during the recession that began in late 2007.

However, additional increases could be difficult based on new changes to the Kansas income tax code signed into law by Brownback in May. Coupled with a previously scheduled sales tax decrease, the income tax reductions will provide $231 million in tax relief during the fiscal year beginning July 1, with the annual figure growing to $934 million after six years. That means less money coming into state government coffers.

Mark Tallman, lobbyist for the school board association, said the state board has advocated for full funding of schools in the past and should at the least seek an increase in base aid for schools in the coming year. But, he said, the tax changes can’t be ignored — and what could happen to recent gains in student achievement.

“KASB urges the state board to determine the potential impact of this bill on school finance and on educational outcomes in Kansas and take a leadership role of working with the governor and Legislature to minimize harmful results,” Tallman said.

The funding discussion comes as a trial is under way for a lawsuit filed on behalf of 54 school districts. Their attorneys argued during a three-week hearing before a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court that current education spending levels are unconstitutional and that the state is in violation of a 2006 Kansas Supreme Court ruling.

Comments

Patricia Davis 1 year, 9 months ago

kugrad: you said it! Can our schools get better? Of course. Will they get better in Koch's view for the world? No. Trabert's paid for views show exactly what's the matter with Kansas. Time for a revolution.

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kugrad 1 year, 9 months ago

It is sad that we live in a society where not only has our state government been bought by special interest groups, but we can't even have a comment section on our local newspaper without a paid employee of the Koch Brothers' funded organization spewing propaganda and distortions.

Our schools in Lawrence are well above average, but you can't privatize schools, the ultimate goal of Mr. Trabert's employers, without convincing the public that our schools are failing. Since that hasn't worked so well, they favor cutting school funding until the schools fail.

Go away Mr. Trabert, this isn't a forum for paid political advertisement.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 9 months ago

Dave said this

"The most recent spending data shows that Kansas spent at least $1,200 per pupil MORE than those states. "

OK, Dave, tell us precisely where and how they spend $1200 less per pupil. If this spending can be decreased so easily, there must be some easily identifiable ways to do it (and charter schools/ privatization is not it. Give us real answers, Dave, not just more mumbo jumbo.)

(Do you get paid by the word on these forums?)

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conservativejayhawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Thank you, Mr. Trabert, for actual arguments and not simply labeling and name-calling. How anyone who has had to wait in line at the Post Office or the DMV and still wants more government involvement in anything is beyond my ken.

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Paul R Getto 1 year, 9 months ago

Good move, SBOE. Ask for what is needed. If one thinks "money doesn't matter," just watch the wealthy as they ask for lower taxes and less regulation. Money does matter, and it appears the rich sincerely believe this. Vouchers and charters don't scare educators much. Vouchers and charters that are not equal-opportunity programs (aka the Kansas Constitution) are what they really want; boutique charters for their kids and few others. If the research on charter schools suggested they worked long-term for a diverse population, I'd feel better. Right now, I don't.

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Dave Trabert 1 year, 9 months ago

The KNEA and KASB request would not cost $440 million...the total would be $646 million. Increasing the base aid per pupil to $4,492 would add $479 million in State aid would and automatically increase local property taxes by $167 million, by increasing the amount collected through the LOB. KPI has a calculator on our home page at http://www.kansaspolicy.org.

You can see there that funding the state portion through property taxes would amount to a 12% increase in your annual bill (the state would have to increase the current 20 mills to 36 mills) and the extra LOB would add another 4% increase. Total property taxes would increase by 16%.

Alternatively, if the state portion was funded through sales tax, the current rate of 6.3% would have to go to 7.5%...and you would still have a 4% increase in property taxes for LOB.

If the state chose to fund the extra $479 million in state aid with income tax, your tax bill would jump by 16%....and you would still have a 4% increase in property taxes for LOB.

By the way, Dale Dennis at KASB says our calculations are correct. If you go look at the calculator, it defaults to $6,142 in BSAPP, which school lawyers have said is 'adequate'. That would be a total tax increase of $2.1 billion.

It's a shame that so much attention is placed on funding instead of student outcomes, especially since its been proven time and again that higher spending does not translate to higher achievement.

Taxpayer support of public education in Kansas jumped from $3.1 billion in 1998 to $5.6 billion in 2011 (interesting side note: KSDE says 2012 will be a record-setting spending year at $5.7 billion). But Kansas scores on independent national assessments (National Assessment of Educational Progress) are flat.

The states in the region with the best NAEP scores on individual student cohorts (White, Hispanic, Low Income, etc) are Colorado and Texas. The most recent spending data shows that Kansas spent at least $1,200 per pupil MORE than those states. Examination of the cohort scores of all 50 states reveals that there is simply no correlation (let alone causation) between spending and achievement.

According to KSDE, only about half of Kansas' juniors have full comprehension of grade-appropriate material. The ACT college-readiness measurement says only 28% of Kansas high school graduates are college-ready in English, Reading, Math and Science. NAEP shows that Kansas' scores for each cohort are barely above average (which isn't saying much in the U.S.).

More money clearly isn't the answer to solving the achievement problem. It's a shame that kids will continue to suffer while the adults at KNEA and KASB fight to get themselves more money.

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Cogito_Ergo_Es 1 year, 9 months ago

Perhaps our school board should have waited to hear the outcome of this inevitable case or even have waited for the Governor's final budget before voting to spend all this money. We'll be able to do it for a year or so on reserves but their decision is not sustainable. Within a year or two we'll be saying good bye to all-day kindergarten or other programs, and certainly more elementary schools as we always want to balance the budget on the backs of our youngest during their foundational years, don't we? I absolutely agree we should have more money at our disposal and Brownback shouldn't have taken it away by cutting income taxes, but the fact remains he did, and this district is planning our children's future on money we know we won't have. Now, how's that going to work?

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