July 24, 2014

Gov. says significant funds needed for schools

Danedri Thompson
dthompson@gardnernews.com
Fully funding education will require “significant new funding,” Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said in a statement last week. Brownback’s statement comes on the heels of a Supreme Court ruling that will require the state legislature to fully fund capital outlay aid and supplemental general aid payments by July 1.
“I have had good discussions with legislators and education superintendents concerning school finance,” Brownback said. “My highest priority is that dollars need to go to the classroom and our students.”
Brownback’s statement did not detail specific dollar amounts. Legislators will be tasked with ensuring that funding for poorer districts is equitable to that of wealthier school districts.
The Kansas Department of Education estimates state legislators will need to increase school funding by approximately $130 million to meet the Court’s requirements. That amount would restore cuts to school funds made by the Kansas Legislature during the last economic downturn.
House minority leader Paul Davis said Kansas isn’t meeting its moral and constitutional obligation to provide kids with a top-notch education.
“Think about those kids who started school when the recession began. They are now halfway through their K-12 years and have endured nothing but budget cuts,” Davis said in a statement. “We can’t wait for the court. We have to solve this problem, and we have to solve it now.”
Davis said there is a bill in the Kansas House and Senate that would fully restore $130 million to public schools.
Brownback did not offer specifics in his statement, though he noted that the solution to the equity problem will require “significant new funding.” The Governor outlined guiding principles on school funding.  He said the equity issue raised by the court should be completely addressed this year and capital outlay authority should remain intact and be fully equalized.
Brownback said his administration will work with legislative leadership to identify the necessary funding.
“I appreciate the hard work of the legislature in addressing this important issue,” Brownback said. “We will fix it.”

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