Kansas lawmakers consider first proposal to overhaul education funding

TOPEKA (KSNT) — State lawmakers got their first look at a proposal to overhaul the way public schools are financed Tuesday.

For years public schools in Kansas have gotten state funding based on the number of students they serve, but the proposal now before lawmakers would change that framework and fund for the number of classes each school has.

“In the past what we’ve done is we’ve funded per student, which the gyrations of funding go up and down,” said Rep. Scott Schwab, the sponsor of the bill.

That’s why he thinks the basic unit of funding should be the classroom.

“Then as you grow and you build new classrooms, you get increased funding,” said Schwab.

So how much would each class be worth?

He says an audit would determine the average cost per classroom in a single congressional district.

“And we’ll take that average cost, times the number of classrooms you have in that district, and that’s 60 percent of your budget. We’ll throw on another 20 percent for maintenance and upkeep, another 20 percent for administration,” said Schwab.

The ultimate goal is stability, which both lawmakers and educators desire.

However some are still skeptical about this particular plan.

“Right now as the bill is written, it really hasn’t included any parents, or educators or school boards in the decision making process,” said Erin Gould, a member of ‘Game on for Kansas.’

“What do you call a classroom, you know, what are the costs that are involved in that classroom? Does class size make a difference in a classroom?” wonders Jim Freeman, CFO of Wichita Public Schools. “Or can we take a large classroom and cut it in half and get funded twice as much. I think there’s a lot of questions to have to be worked out yet.”

Even if his plan is rejected, Schwab just wants to get the conversation going.

“It’s just a step forward. We just, we need to come out of the session with a plan,” said Schwab.

Something school officials appreciate.

“I’ve been doing this for a few years, and this is the first time I can ever remember us having good conversations around school finance, and building a new method to do this,” said Freeman.

The United School Administrators of Kansas presented a list of six principles they hope lawmakers will include in the final formula.

Among those are budget predictability, recognizing local control, and supporting all student needs.

Temporary block grants remain the funding mechanism through next year, but as KSNT News reported last week lawmakers have to find a way to make those more equitable to all districts before June 30th.

TOPEKA (KSNT) — State lawmakers got their first look at a proposal to overhaul the way public schools are financed Tuesday.

For years public schools in Kansas have gotten state funding based on the number of students they serve, but the proposal now before lawmakers would change that framework and fund for the number of classes each school has.

“In the past what we’ve done is we’ve funded per student, which the gyrations of funding go up and down,” said Rep. Scott Schwab, the sponsor of the bill.

That’s why he thinks the basic unit of funding should be the classroom.

“Then as you grow and you build new classrooms, you get increased funding,” said Schwab.

So how much would each class be worth?

He says an audit would determine the average cost per classroom in a single congressional district.

“And we’ll take that average cost, times the number of classrooms you have in that district, and that’s 60 percent of your budget. We’ll throw on another 20 percent for maintenance and upkeep, another 20 percent for administration,” said Schwab.

The ultimate goal is stability, which both lawmakers and educators desire.

However some are still skeptical about this particular plan.

“Right now as the bill is written, it really hasn’t included any parents, or educators or school boards in the decision making process,” said Erin Gould, a member of ‘Game on for Kansas.’

“What do you call a classroom, you know, what are the costs that are involved in that classroom? Does class size make a difference in a classroom?” wonders Jim Freeman, CFO of Wichita Public Schools. “Or can we take a large classroom and cut it in half and get funded twice as much. I think there’s a lot of questions to have to be worked out yet.”

Even if his plan is rejected, Schwab just wants to get the conversation going.

“It’s just a step forward. We just, we need to come out of the session with a plan,” said Schwab.

Something school officials appreciate.

“I’ve been doing this for a few years, and this is the first time I can ever remember us having good conversations around school finance, and building a new method to do this,” said Freeman.

The United School Administrators of Kansas presented a list of six principles they hope lawmakers will include in the final formula.

Among those are budget predictability, recognizing local control, and supporting all student needs.

Temporary block grants remain the funding mechanism through next year, but as KSNT News reported last week lawmakers have to find a way to make those more equitable to all districts before June 30th.

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