The new school finance cost study contracted by the legislature was released at 1:00 today and, contrary to the expectations of those who thought the consultant was hired to demonstrate that the state was spending adequately on Kansas schools, the study appears to confirm what education advocates have been saying for some time.
While there is still much reading and analysis ahead of us, it appears that, at a minimum, the state needs an additional $500 million in education funding.
Dr. Lori Taylor and Jason Willis, the lead authors will be in Topeka on Monday to discuss the study with the members of the House K-12 Budget Committee and the Senate Select Committee on School Finance. At that time we hope to get more details of the study.
There are some problems in the report including a misalignment of school districts with their accompanying weighting indices. Additionally, there is at least one missing table of data.
Over the next few days we will be pouring over the report and reviewing all the math including the factors that are included in their “teacher salary index.”
If you would like to read the study for yourself, you can find it by clicking here.
KNEA Testifies in Favor of School Safety and Security Bill
The Appropriations Committee held a hearing today on HB 2773, a partial response to the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida.
HB 2773 requires the State Board of Education to work with other state agencies to establish standards for school security and school safety plans. It requires schools to assess current security in their buildings and to develop safety plans in cooperation with law enforcement. The bill provides $5 million in grant money that schools may apply for to upgrade security systems. Finally, it includes the gun safety program as an opportunity for all students.
No school is required to offer gun safety training and while the NRA’s Eddie Eagle is recommended, other programs such as the 4-H program are allowed.
In testimony, KNEA noted that the bill was very well intended and worthy of passage but urged the committee not to consider this to be a solution to the problems of assaults and mass shootings in our society. Lobbyist Mark Desetti raised asked the committee to also consider gun laws in Kansas and mental health programs.
“We hope you might look inside yourself, look in the eyes of a child, and ask, ‘Have we gone too far?’ said Desetti. “We saw this week that the youth of this state and this nation think perhaps you have.”