Chairman’s Bill on School Finance is Revealed

Mar 21, 2017 by

Today we attended a briefing on the “Chairman’s Bill” on school finance in the House K-12 Education Budget Committee. While the bill is not yet in print form, the various components were explained by Revisor Jason Long and Rep. Clay Aurand (R-Belleville). Aurand had facilitated the Committee discussion, seeking consensus on what items would be included in the bill.

While there were no specifics on funding in the bill, we can share the components with you. The bill is similar to the previous school finance formula in that it contains a base funding per pupil modified by weightings.

  • Base state aid per pupil is renamed Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE). It is multiplied by the enrollment of the district which is the average of two count dates – September 20 and February 20. BASE is adjusted by a number of weightings (explained below). This method determines the school district’s total foundation aid. The state portion of that aid is determined by subtracting local revenue sources (local foundation aid) from its total foundation aid.
  • Kindergarten students would count a 0.8 in 2017-18, 0.9 in 2018-19, and 1.0 in 2019-2020, phasing in funding for all day kindergarten.
  • Bilingual weighting will shift from a contact hours calculation to an FTE student headcount. In the briefing this was said to be a weighting of 0.1 although Aurand later noted that that number was not correct.
  • At-risk weighting is based on students on free lunch as it was in the previous formula. The weighting factor will be 0.456. There is also a high-density at-risk weighting of 0.105 for districts with more than 3,000,69% or more of which are eligible for free lunch. For districts between 2,500 and 3,000 students and between 50% and 60% free lunch there is a linear transition for the weighting.
  • Special education and related services weighting is the same as under the previous formula.
  • Ancillary school facilities weighting is replaced with new school facilities cost weighting and is calculated as ancillary facilities weighting was.
  • The Cost of Living weighting stays as it was.
  • There is no career and technical education weighting. Instead, as we understand it, districts will receive a set amount of money per pupil which may be used for CTE programs or even post-secondary dual credit course and distance learning technology.
  • The bill will reauthorize the statewide 20 mill levy.
  • The LOB is replaced with three local funding sources:
  • The Local Foundation Budget (LFB) is a mandatory levy of 20% of the district’s total foundation aid. A portion of the LFB is required to be used for at-risk and bilingual education in proportion to the district’s at-risk and bilingual weightings. It is equalized as the LOB is today.
  • The Local Enhancement Budget (LEB) is limited to 5% of the district’s total foundation aid. No election is required. It is equalized as the LOB is today.
  • The Local Activities Budget (LAB) is limited to 4% of the district’s enrollment multiplied by the BASE aid. The LAB must be approved by the voters and expended only for non-instructional purposes. It is equalized as capital outlay is today.
  • Capital outlay state aid is reenacted using the same formula.
  • Bond and interest state aid remains the same except that districts with fewer than 260 students would need State Board approval in order to be eligible fore state aid for bonds issued to construct new school facilities.
  • Virtual school aid would remain the same as the current formula.
  • The corporate tuition tax credit program would be change such that eligible students would include those enrolled in a district that receives high-density at-risk weighting. Nonpublic schools receiving students would have to be accredited by the State Board and have a post-secondary effective rate that exceeds the trend line for all school districts as determined by the State Board or have a composite ACT score that exceeds the statewide average.

Wow. That’s a lot to digest! And it is all based on a briefing because the bill has yet to be printed. We expect to see the full bill some time tomorrow and then spend some quality time plowing through all 100 pages.

We’ll keep you posted as the discussion goes on. Tomorrow should be more committee discussion of the above. Hearings on the bill will be Thursday, Friday, and Monday, if needed.


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New Finance Bill? Not Yet.

Mar 20, 2017 by

No New School Finance Bill Today

We suppose the “Chairman’s Bill” on school finance, which we expected to be unveiled in committee today is not yet ready. Today’s meeting of the K-12 Education Budget Committee was canceled.

There are meetings scheduled for Tuesday through Friday, so hopefully, we’ll get our first look tomorrow.

Senate Committee Hears Proponents of Medicaid Expansion

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee today held the first part of a two-part hearing on HB 2044, the bill expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this session, Medicaid expansion was blocked by the House Committee chairman but Rep. Susan Concannon (R-Beloit) brought an amendment on the House floor that put it in another related bill. Concannon’s amendment was adopted on a voice vote and the amended bill was passed with a strong majority (81-44).

Opponents of expansion will have their day before the Senate committee tomorrow.

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A Wonderful Opportunity for Educators

Mar 18, 2017 by

Spend Spring Break Under the Dome!

While some of our readers have already had their spring break, many schools are off for spring break next week. And coincidentally, next week is a big week for school finance under the dome.

The House K-12 Education Budget Committee is expected to receive the “Chairman’s Bill” on Monday and the rest of the week will be a review of the bill and the public hearings will begin. This committee meets every day next week and while the agenda says “to be announced,” we know they will be reviewing the bill and holding public hearings. This could be a great opportunity for you to meet with the legislators writing the new formula!

The House K-12 Education Budget Committee meets from 1:30 until about 3:30 in room 346-S, the old Supreme Court Room.

But wait! There’s more!

The Senate Select Committee on School Finance met for the first time yesterday and they plan to meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week. This is the committee tasked by Senate leadership to come up with the Senate school finance plan.

On Tuesday, Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis will review the current and previous formulas with them. On Wednesday they will learn about bond and interest state aid, supplemental general state aid, and transportation weighting from Scott Frank of the Legislative Post Audit Division. On Thursday some school districts will educate them on the local district budget building process.

Again, these are wonderful opportunities for you to see the discussion up close and personal! This committee meets from 1:00 until 2:30 in room 144-S.

Your lobbyists will be there and would love to see you! Are you willing to take one day of your spring break to let legislators know that you are following their actions? While you are here, you can tour the capital and make the climb to the top of the dome! Bring the kids! See the legislature in action!

Look for KNEA lobbyist Mark Desetti in the House Committee and KNEA lobbyist Terry Forsyth in the Senate Committee.

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Cuts Killed

Mar 16, 2017 by

The Senate considered three amendments to cut state services including K-12 and higher education tonight and defeated all three by large margins.

The first amendment with a 2% across the board cut (requiring the cut to K-12 to be from non-instructional budget lines) was offered by Senator Wagle (R-Wichita). After a lengthy debate, the amendment failed on a roll call vote of 7 – 33. The seven Senators voting in favor of cutting schools were Alley, Fitzgerald, Lynn, Olson, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle.

The second amendment, offered by Senator Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha), was the same but with a cut of 1% across the board. This amendment failed on a roll call vote of 10 – 30. The ten senators voting in favor of cutting schools were Alley, Fitzgerald, Lynn, Masterson, Olson, Petersen, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle.

The third and final cut amendment, also offered by Senator Pyle, would have cut schools by 0.5%. This amendment failed on a vote of 6-34. The six Senators voting to cut education were Alley, Olson, Pilcher-Cook, Pyle, Tyson, and Wagle. You will note that Senator Lynn voted NO on this amendment. She explained her change by saying she had voted for larger cuts.

On an emergency final action vote after 9:00 pm, the rescission bill WITHOUT CUTS TO STATE SERVICES OR EDUCATION passed on a vote of 27-13.


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What About Those Cuts?

Mar 16, 2017 by

The Senate went into session and quickly recessed until “the sound of the gavel.” This would be an indication that something leadership wants to pass is in trouble. We would assume that the Senate President may understand that her cuts amendment will not pass and has recessed to work on persuading members to join her cause.

The Senate reconvened about 4:20 and started work on their list of bills. HB 2052 is down the list and they are engaged in debates and amendments on other bills at this time. We will watch this tonight and report to you tomorrow.

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