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How Much Kansas Spends Per Student at Issue When Lawmakers Rewrite Funding Formula

Photo by Stephen Koranda

A temporary block grant system for education in Kansas is set to expire next year and lawmakers are planning to write a new school funding formula to replace it. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, how much money a new formula provides per student could be one of the major issues of contention.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says Kansas does well on most education measures, but his group is studying the states that perform even better.

"If we want to follow the example of some of the most successful states, look what they do,” says Tallman.

Tallman says if you're writing a new funding formula and you want to perform like the states that top Kansas, funding education at similar rates will help. He says those better-performing states spend more per student than Kansas.

“It’s going to be very difficult to push much farther ahead if we don’t have additional resources,” says Tallman.

Governor Sam Brownback and some other lawmakers see it a little differently, and that’s a division that legislators will have to tackle next year. Brownback’s spokesperson, Eileen Hawley, says the amount of money the state spends on schools does matter, but just how that money is spent is equally important.

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