A lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards believes the simple solution is in front of the Kansas Legislature for school funding, if they choose to take it.
“The Supreme Court has upheld the formula as we have it,” said KASB Vice President for Advocacy, Mark Tallman. “The Supreme Court approved the Legislature’s method of correcting the problem of suitable funding. Basically, the Legislature said our plan is just to get funding levels back to where they were in 2009, which was the funding level that the Legislature had previously agreed to adjusted for inflation.”
The problem is they didn’t follow that inflation adjustment through in the phase in years of the funding, so that’s what is at issue right now.
“The battle is going to be over, is it unreasonable to say, we’ve really got everything in place how we want it,” said Tallman. “We have indications the plaintiffs are willing to settle. Do we recognize that this commitment we made a four year phase in means, it’s going to lose some value for inflation to correct that. Seems to me, the simplest way is to try to follow that.”
It’s important to note, though, that the Legislature does not have all the same people in it who hammered these deals out, though leadership is much the same.
“With school finance, there’s likely to be continuing discussion of the issue of amending the Constitution around school finance, I think primarily because of legislative concerns over court decisions,” said Tallman. “That takes a two-thirds vote in both houses. There have not been the numbers to do that in the past. That is something that I think is going to be discussed.”
It remains to be seen if such a proposal will make it out of committee, but many committee chairmanships, particularly on the House side, are held by more conservative members of the Republican caucus this time around.