The final State of the State speech from Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was a look back for the Governor and a lot of dreaming of Kansas’ future, but the main policy point in the speech was about school funding.
“We have received the decree of the Kansas Supreme Court and are putting forth a proposal to comply, as we have done with the prior decisions,” Brownback said. “My budget recommendations includes an additional $600 million in funding over the next five years. This multiyear approach will provide the time necessary for school districts to plan and spend this additional money more effectively. My proposal does not include a tax increase.”
Brownback then turned his rhetoric toward the achievements he would like to see to go with that new money.
“Let me make one thing very clear,” Brownback said. “The people of Kansas expect results. The Kansas State Board of Education will be responsible for making sure they get them.
I suggest they consider the following goals to do so:
First, we should reach a 95 percent state graduation rate. Second, a minimum of 75 percent of our students should be continuing their education after graduation, whether that be through attending college, earning a postsecondary certification or joining the military. Third, we should accelerate the movement of Kansas schools to the Kansans Can model for school redesign launched by the Kansas Department of Education.”
Brownback then went into detail as to how he thinks the Kansas Board of Education can get to those goals with five strategic objectives.
“First, Kansas has great teachers,” Brownback said. “We should have a higher average teacher pay than any of our surrounding states. Second, we should increase the number of school counselors and school psychologists in Kansas schools by 150 positions each year. Third, we should have at least 50 schools participating in the Kansans Can school redesign project. Fourth, every Kansas high school should offer at least 15 credit hours of dual-credit coursework to every high school student at no additional cost to parents. This is a minimum, and it’s clearly something we can do. This can be through a partnership between high schools and the state’s institutions of higher learning. Fifth, they should also offer every Kansas high school student, again, at no additional cost to parents, the choice of taking either the ACT college entrance exam or the WorkKeys assessment.”
Brownback said these goals should be achieved within the next five years.