School Funding Overhaul Law Signed

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed an overhaul of state school funding into law late Wednesday afternoon. After signing the education block grant bill into law, the governor issue the following statement:

“For the first time ever, we will spend more than $4 billion to support K12 education in Kansas. At the same time we are providing those closest to the classroom – teachers and parents – direct control over the future of education by getting money into the classroom to immediately benefit Kansas students.

“In the 2014-2015 school year, funding was approximately $3.98 billion. For school year 2015-2016 that increases to $4.09 billion, increasing again to $4.16 billion in school year 2016-2017.

“I want to thank the legislature for restoring the previous allotments through this block grant, as I requested. I further thank the legislature for its efforts in passing this critical first step in developing a new formula that recognizes the high quality of Kansas schools and provides a stable source of funding that makes them great for generations of Kansas students to come. Together we will build on our past success and not jeopardize funding because of flaws in the previous formula.

“I look forward to working with the legislature to develop an education funding plan that not only provides more money to the classroom but is sustainable, stable and predictable.”

The Kansas Supreme Court might block the new law, though. The court released an order last week announcing it may intervene to protect the status quo as it decides a case determining whether Kansas is funding education at constitutionally appropriate levels. The court will hold a hearing on the issue May 7.

The bill is a key part of Brownback’s policy agenda as education spending is the biggest item on the state budget. The plan would give school districts “block grants” based on their current aid for the next two school years. Lawmakers are then expected to establish a new funding formula.

Opponents to the bill have said abandoning the current formula opens up schools to cuts and uncertainty.