Kansas lawmakers have some major issues to tackle in the next legislative session, and one of their top challenges will be writing a new school funding formula. They threw out the old formula last year and replaced it with temporary block grants. Now, those block grants are set to expire.
Governor Sam Brownback says he’ll urge lawmakers to create a system that ties funding to student outcomes.
“That students read by the third grade. That they have a certification or get their degree after they graduate. That they have an ACT score so that they can go to college. What I want to see us do is focus our funding system much more on rewarding on an outcome basis rather than a number, numerical count,” says Brownback.
Brownback solicited suggestions from the public on what should go into a school funding plan, but he says he won't put forward any model legislation.
“We’ve got ideas that we’ll be putting forward. I’m not going to put forward a formula. I think if I did, much of the Legislature would say ‘that’s dead on arrival.’ People just say ‘it’s our purview, not yours. We’re the budget people, not you,’” says Brownback.
The previous formula worked on a per-student basis and included weightings for variables such as the number of low-income students.
The issue is complicated by an ongoing lawsuit over school funding in Kansas. The state Supreme Court could hand down a decision in the coming months.