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KS Education Debate May Shift to Pension Costs

Statehouse by SK(Photo by Stephen Koranda)The debate over school funding in Kansas may be shifting to focus more on employee pension costs. That’s because teachers and school employees are part of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System, known as KPERS. KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports.

For a long time, the education funding debate has focused on what’s called the base state aid per pupil, and other money that pays for salaries, books and school buildings. Governor Sam Brownback stresses that the state has increased funding for education every year he’s been in office, and a good portion has been more money for the underfunded pension plan. Brownback says that’s an important cost of running schools.

“I think most teachers get pensions and want to see their pensions funded, and you have a limited amount of total dollars,” says Brownback.

But Frank Henderson, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, points out that KPERS funding doesn’t help pay for basic classroom and education expenses.

“It’s a big item, runs through the districts. We really don’t see any benefit from that, of course,” says Henderson."

This issue will likely come into play as lawmakers debate education spending next legislative session.

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