February 11, 2016

State legislators approve school funding plan

Danedri Thompson
Kansas legislators approved a budget that increases base state aid per pupil and adds an additional $129 million to public schools to equalize disparities between wealthier and poorer school districts.
Finance officials at Gardner-Edgerton School District and at the Spring Hill School District said the added funding will be negligible in next year’s budgets, but it could mean a property tax rate break for local property owners.
USD 231 will see approximately $152,000 in additional state funding next year. Meanwhile, USD 230 will receive an extra $79,000. The increases amount to less than a 1 percent increase in the school districts’ budgets.
However, Jeremy McFadden, Gardner Edgerton School District finance director, said with the state fully funding its portion of the local option budget, homeowners could see local property tax rate decrease of up to 5 mills.
Doug Schwinn, Spring Hill School District finance director, said the increased local option budget (LOB) funding from the state won’t change the size of the budget pie.
“It only changes who pays for it,” Schwinn said. “Last year, our patrons were paying more in tax dollars. Now more of that will be paid by the state.”
In addition to the court-mandated increases in LOB funding, legislators also added $14 to the base state aid per pupil raising it from $3,838 to $3,852.
“The early rumors we heard at the start of the (legislative) session, I was scared it could be worse,” Schwinn said. “I don’t know that the legislators have fully answered the court’s intentions. Obviously, we hoped for more, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen this year.”
McFadden said the increase was small, but it’s a step in the right direction.
“I think we’ve been conditioned to fear cuts, and any time you can avoid one, the way we’ve learned to live in the last four or five years, finding a way not to take a cut, that’s a win,” he said.
While legislators approved a plan that will add some dollars to the bottom lines of USD 231 and USD 230, the plan also tweaked the state’s school finance formula. The formula weights student attendance numbers based on demographics and transportation needs. The weighting allows one student to count as more than one student. For example, one student who receives free and reduced lunches may count, for attendance and funding purposes, as 1.1 students.
McFadden said the tweaked formula will remove some funding for non-proficient, at-risk student weighting. The change will cost the local districts some money, but overall the legislature’s plan will add funding to both the Gardner-Edgerton and the Spring Hill School Districts.
“It’s such a small percentage in our overall budget, it really is pretty much a wash,” Schwinn said. “We know for a fact there are going to be certain things that will cost more next more. Whether it’s gas, food or electricity. Whatever increase that is, it’s pretty much already spoken for.”
He also noted that districts are still analyzing the changes, which legislators approved in a late-night session on April 6.
“This is all new and we haven’t really analyzed it yet,” Schwinn said. “But we’re hoping as the dust settles to really set down and start working on next year’s budget to see where we’re at. I guess it helps that they finally made a decision.”


  1. Judith Rogers says:

    Did Sutton vote on this issue and if so, how did he vote?

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    Wait, I just read where Sutton said his vote was not “needed” on one of this most important issues to the citizens. He must feel his vote is “needed”, however, on numerous bills which are unconstitutional that the Legislature has passed the last few years.

    Citizens can make up their own minds as to whether Sutton is just another conniving, worthless politician or an actual representative with a spine and one who can make decisions on important issues. The choice is theirs. You can always tell when it is an election year in my opinion.

  3. Jerry L Kellogg Sr says:

    Regarding the school finance bill passed by the Kansas legislature on April 6, 2014, Representative Sutton remarked in his April 10 email to subscribers of the Sutton Capitol Report newsletter about his failure to vote:

    “A review of the vote tally of HB 2506 will show you that I didn’t cast my vote for the bill, nor did I vote against it. I think this accurately reflects my ambivalence to this particular bill.
    “I voted against the initial House position, because the spending presents some real challenges in 2016 and beyond. I voted for the conference committee report on Saturday because it had two policy pieces that was worth the spending challenges: Property tax relief for homeschools and private school families and the corporate scholarship piece for at-risk students. This report was rejected.

    “The report that passed Sunday night had taken away the property tax relief. The teacher tenure policy piece wasn’t a motivator for me because it does nothing to move us toward school choice, unlike the property tax relief. If my vote had been necessary to pass the bill, I would have supported it to keep from losing the one policy piece I cared about. It turned out, though, that my vote wasn’t necessary.”

    I expect my representatives to vote on all legislation, whether I agree or disagree with their decisions, especially on bills impacting the education of my grandchildren. Sitting on the sidelines and not participating in the final vote is unacceptable to me. I encourage all local registered voters to actively participate in democracy by making known on Election Day their response to recent legislative activity in our statehouse. Kansas belongs to all Kansans.

  4. Saw this article regarding an Islamic plot to takeover a British city’s school district and couldn’t ignore the similarity to what’s happening in our own state. Just substitute the word “Christian” (the new zealot type, not the old-school laissez faire kind) wherever you see the word “Islamic” or “Muslim” and “Kansas” wherever you see the word, “Birmingham.” Everything else can remain the same, including the word “Jihad.” The similarities are uncanny.


  5. Judith Rogers says:

    Yes, the extremists are alive and well here in Kansas and have been about their work for several years in our schools, our government entities, politics, etc., etc. Just take a gander at the Facebook pages of the Gardner/Edgerton Republican Party or the CFG Facebook page and you will see hate mongering and lies on a regular basis – that is my opinion. And it is amazing to me to see the citizens buying into all of the propaganda, rhetoric, brainwashing and more and seeing all of the adverse affects coming from all of it. When I see ole Pilcher-Cook providing live ultra-sound tests right on the floor of the state Capitol along with all of the gun and knife legislation resulting in gun culture communities and with more and more zealot activities such as saying the federal government to stay out of Kansas, it does concern me, concerns me big time. This latest shooting this weekend proves again the hate mongering and lies bring about disaster and much suffering.

    When that book “What is the matter with Kansas” was written, there was a reason for it I would say. Citizens do have a choice as to what their communities and their state will represent – they might want to think long and hard about that fact, especially while they look for candidates for office and before going into the voting booth.

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