With more than half of the budget for the State of Kansas going to K-12 education, good news for the state budget means good news for schools.
“The Court has accepted a plan,” said Mark Tallman, Vice President of Advocacy for the Kansas Association of School Boards. “The issue was whether the state could afford that plan. While in the short term, things look pretty good, there were long-term projections that, as school spending and other things within the budget would increase, that we could be headed for a general fund deficit. New revenue estimates earlier this month make that look like the situation is much better.”
The state expects about $500 million more in the rest of the two-year budget cycle than it did previously. Also, there look to be fewer kids enrolled and fewer weighted students than were originally estimated.
“That created some savings that will also give the legislature the opportunity either to do something else with those savings,” said Tallman. What the State Board of Education is advocating and certainly, I think, school boards would advocate is use those savings to have a higher degree of funding in our Special Education State Aid program.”
Neither the federal government nor state government has funded Special Education the way they intended to when legislation was passed.
“Despite the Gannon agreement, Special Education State Aid is still funded much lower than the target in state law,” said Tallman. “That, of course, requires districts to transfer dollars from regular education programs to meet those mandatory costs. The overall budget picture for school funding looks much more stable than it did a few months ago.”
This is the first session in a long time where some aspect of the school finance formula is not under active court challenge.