TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Top Republican lawmakers in Kansas say their new education funding proposal would significantly boost aid to public schools.
The House and Senate budget committee chairmen unveiled the plan Thursday during a Statehouse news conference.
Figures from legislative researchers showed that total aid would rise to $4.2 billion for the 2016-17 school year, or almost 9 percent more than during the 2013-14 school year.
The plan would replace the state’s current formula for distributing aid to schools with “block grants” for districts based on their current aid. GOP leaders said it’s designed to provide stable funding while lawmakers write a new formula.
But GOP leaders aren’t saying how they’d pay for the higher spending. The increase also covers contributions for teacher pensions that have risen in recent years.
Meanwhile, new figures from the Kansas Legislature’s research staff show that rising state contributions to teacher pensions would eat up much of the proposed funding increases for public schools under a new plan.
They said total aid for the 2016-17 school year would be $333 million higher than it was for 2013-14. That’s an increase of nearly 9 percent.
But data obtained from legislative researchers showed that when increases in pension contributions are factored out, the increase in 2016-17 compared with 2013-14 would be $184 million, or 5.2 percent.
And when proposed aid for 2016-17 is compared with the current 2014-15 school year, the increase outside of pensions is $39 million, or 1.1 percent.
Later in the day, Republican legislative leaders responded to a key concern about their new school funding plan by including a proposal to set aside dollars for extraordinary needs.
Some educators worried beforehand that stable funding would hurt districts with growing student populations or financial emergencies.
Republican leaders said their plan would set aside funds for school districts with big enrollment increases or other major issues.
They said they would set aside $4 million for the current school year, $12.3 million for the 2015-16 school year and $17.5 million for the 2016-15 school year.
Figures from Kansas legislative researchers show that total state aid to public schools would rise under a new Republican funding plan.
The figures released Thursday include increasing state contributions to teacher pensions.
For fiscal year 2014, which ended June 30, 2014, state aid would be nearly $3.9 billion.
For fiscal 2015, which began July 1, 2014, aid would be 4.06 billion, up $176.4 million, or 4.5 percent, from fiscal 2014.
For fiscal 2016, beginning July 1, it would be $4.16 billion, up $96.4 million, or 2.4 percent, from fiscal 2015.
For fiscal 2017, beginning July 1, 2016, it would be $4.22 billion, up $60.7 million, or 1.5 percent.
The cumulative 2014-2017 increase would be $333.4 million, or 8.6 percent.
The 2015-17 increase would be $157 million, or 3.9 percent.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.