School funding will likely get another increase this year as an inflation adjustment to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court’s order, but exactly what that will look like is still being discussed.
“If we’re adding more money, should it go in the BASE, should it go into some of these other programs we hear about, should it be more targeted?” asked KASB Vice-President for Advocacy Mark Tallman. “I think that is the discussion that you really need to be having.”
Tallman says everyone wants to see the money go where it is needed, but who decides the specifics on that is what is at issue.
“I firmly believe that both most legislators and most school leaders, we absolutely share where the money should go,” said Tallman. “It needs to go to competitive salaries, it needs to go to programs to help kids be more successful, like early childhood and special education. It needs to go to health programs, mental health counseling programs, exactly what we were talking about and it needs to be focused on programs to help kids be more successful, getting ready for college, dual enrollment. We all agree on those.”
The Legislature can divide the pie by earmarking funds, but if the money goes to the BASE, then the ball ends up in the court of local school boards.
“The question is how that may break down in individual districts,” said Tallman. “Does the legislature decide, or do local school boards decide how we’ll make that allocation?”
If any plan other than the Governor’s plan needs to be prepared for oral argument by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office, then it needs to be given to them by March 1. If it’s the Governor’s proposal, the deadline is March 15.