The first meeting of the Special Committee on K-12 Student Success was held at the statehouse today. This is the committee established by the legislature when they repealed the 1992 school finance formula and replaced it with the block grant program in effect for this year and next. The block grant formula sunsets after two years and this committee is tasked with creating the new one.
Today was not a day of any action; it was an information gathering day.
Education Commission Randy Watson and Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis provided the committee with reams of data on school funding in Kansas. They also shared detailed information on teacher salaries and benefits across the state.
The next topic was bond and interest state aid. The presentation by Revisor of Statutes Jason Long detailed the history of this aid and how the formula provides support to districts with building projects.
Wrapping up the meeting was Alan Conroy, Executive Director of KPERS, with an overview of the KPERS system, its history including the merger of the Kansas School Retirement System into KPERS in 1971. Conroy also told the committee that the biggest contributor to the current unfunded actuarial liability to a 1993 law that increased benefits and capped employer contributions. Following passage of that law, employer contributions have never kept up with actuarial requirements.
Discussion will begin in earnest at their next meeting on November 10.
Any documents and the agenda for that meeting will be posted in the Committee’s public dropbox.
Members of the Committee are: Chairman Rep. Ron Highland (R), Vice Chair Sen. Steve Abrams (R), Senators Tom Arpke (R), Molly Baumgardner (R), Jim Denning (R), Anthony Hensley (D), and Ty Masterson (R), and Representatives Tony Barton (R), Sue Boldra (R), Larry Campbell (R), Dennis Hedke (R), Jerry Lunn (R), Ron Ryckman, Jr. (R), Ed Trimmer (D), and Valdenia Winn (D).