The latest blog post from Kansas Association of School Boards Vice-President for Advocacy Mark Tallman notes that the state’s claim of over a billion dollars in additional school aid since the beginning of the Gannon case is accurate, but needs some interpretation.
“That is about a cumulative six-year phase in,” said Tallman. “Certainly, districts are not getting in all of that money at one time. A good portion of that money is what’s promised in the future. It has not yet been provided. The second thing to note is, and I think this is critical, is that even with that increase, school district general operating budgets, when adjusted for inflation, are only expected to be in range of the 2009 level.”
The state’s argument is that their plan is designed to get funding back to the 2009 level by 2023.
“That’s accurate, but, again, it has to be put in the context of the time to phase it in and the fact that we’ve really been falling behind inflation between 2009 and 2017 almost every year, particularly in this part of the school district budget,” said Tallman.
Is there a solution for the kids who are now in middle school who have never gone to class under what the state Supreme Court would call constitutionally equitable and adequate funding and who will be well into high school before the full implementation of the state’s plan?
“For children whose educational opportunities weren’t at a level that the court has suggested it would be, I don’t think there is a way of getting that back,” said Tallman. “That’s unfortunate. I think it may be a little bit of comfort to know that, as the state often points out, Kansas school performance continues to perform very well compared to most other states and compared to where we’ve been in the past. As we continue to want more for our students, expect more for them, expect our schools to do more, that’s really where the problem occurs.”
The Court plans to render its decision in the case next month.