Schools Reap Benefits From Finance Case
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2005 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Kansas lawmakers have solved their long-running school finance dilemma by passing a K-12 education budget that will increase precollegiate spending by 13.7 percent this year and promises increases over the following two years.
Responding to a state supreme court order, lawmakers passed a three-year budget that will appropriate $2.9 billion—a $195 million increase—for the 2006-07 school year. The legislature also said it would provide increases totaling $271 million over the next two years.
The Kansas high court later ruled that the spending plan met the state constitution’s requirement that the state provide an adequate education for K-12 students and dismissed the 7-year-old case challenging its school finance system. ("Kansas Court Delivers Mixed Message in School Aid Case," Aug. 9, 2006.)
During the 2006-07 school year, state per-pupil spending will rise by $59, to $4,316, at a cost of nearly $33.5 million, and will increase another $17 per pupil in the 2008-09 school year.
The budget also responded to the court’s requirement that the state improve financing for special education and students at risk of academic failure. More than $30 million is earmarked for special education this school year, and $25 million for each of the next two years. The legislature approved more than $49 million for at-risk students, nearly $23 million for districts with high concentrations of such students, and $10 million for other districts needing to help children who score below proficient in reading or math but do not qualify for free lunch.
The budget also increases the state cap on how much money districts can raise through local taxes. The new law allows districts to collect local taxes to pay for up to 30 percent of their budgets in 2006-07, an increase of 3 percentage points over the previous year. The change could result in an extra $37 million for school budgets, lawmakers estimate.
Vol. 26, Issue 02, Page 33