Kansas Lawmakers unveil new school funding plan

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Kansas lawmakers are finally unveiling details about the future of public education funding, and many educators are still not happy.

Earlier this year, Governor Sam Brownback announced that he wants to throw out the current school funding formula because it’s too complicated.

Instead he wants to fund schools with block grants, which he says will give schools more flexibility.

That’s what lawmakers are finally revealing a plan for now.

“We must retire the failed formula that has restricted the use of school funding dollars leaving hundreds of millions of dollars out of the classroom,” said Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr. (R) of Olathe.

And now they’re finally offering an alternative, at least until a new formula can be written.

“This is not the new formula, but it does create an environment of stability, predictability, and certainty for our schools,” said Sen. Ty Masterson, (R) of Andover.

Their new plan would only be in place for two years, and would fund schools with what they call block grants, which will let school districts use the money however they see fit.

Educators still say that’s not what they need. They believe the current system works, as long as it’s fully funded.

“It connects what students need, the actual needs that students have, with how we fund schools. And that is exactly how we should be doing it,” said David Smith, Chief of Staff for Kansas City Kansas Public Schools.

Another main component of the proposed plan is a $300 million increase in funding over the next two years.

But with the state’s $600 million dollar deficit, critics are questioning where that money will come from.

They also claim a majority of that money would have to go towards funding teacher’s pensions, not actually educating students.

Official bills for the plan have not been introduced in the House or Senate yet, but are expected very soon.

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