Kan. Gov. to Outline School Funding Plan's Details

Courtney Williams's picture
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gov. Sam Brownback's administration plans to release the long-awaited details of his plan for overhauling how Kansas finances its public schools this week amid skepticism about his ability to keep his promises to protect rural schools and prevent any local districts from losing state aid.

The details will become public Wednesday, when Landon Fulmer, the governor's policy director, makes a presentation to the State Board of Education, the governor's office said Monday. Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said each of the state's 283 districts will be able to see how the plan will affect its aid.

Fulmer already has discussed the outlines of the plan in briefings with educators and legislators, including a provision to remove state limits on local school boards' power to increase property taxes to supplement state aid. Fulmer has said Brownback wants to create a "flexible" funding formula, while the governor has said he wants the state to avoid future lawsuits.

It's not yet clear how much of the proposal has been modified in recent weeks as Fulmer's briefings have continued. For example, Fulmer told the state school board last month that the plan would allow counties to raise their sales taxes to support schools, but the idea has met with widespread criticism because most of the revenue would have to be shared across county lines.

"There has been a lot of work since he met with the school board last month," said Brownback spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag.

The state now distributes more than $3 billion a year in aid to school districts, but Brownback has questioned whether it is working adequately. That's partly because this year the state dedicated more dollars to teacher pensions and helping districts with building projects, even as it cut its base state aid per student by nearly 6 percent to help balance the state budget.

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