Lawmakers have “work cut out for them” in school funding hearings

Kansas Lawmakers_363609

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Thursday was the first of several days planned for hearing testimony and debating the new school funding formula.

Kansas lawmakers were given until June 30 to find a school funding formula after the previous formula was ruled unconstitutional by the Kansas Supreme Court.

“That particular bill would have a very negative impact on Hutchinson Public schools. We would lose $2.97 million dollars of funding next year under that formula,” Hutchinson Public Schools superintendent Dr. Shelly Kiblinger said.

Hutchinson was one of the first school districts to file a lawsuit against the state, due to a lack of equity and adequacy with the school funding formula after the state was pro-rating equalization aid.

Pittsburg Community Schools USD 250 superintendent Destry Brown spoke on behalf of his district to the House.

“I think this is going to push many districts that are small and in rural areas that are isolated into making very tough decisions,” Brown said.

Legislators have been doing their own math, trying to figure out what dollar amount they’re looking at to fund schools — and where those funds are coming from.

Republican lawmaker Rep. Steve Huebert indicated a figure close to $250 million.

“This bill is actually a formula. It’s flexible depending on what funds are available,” Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center said.

“There were different elements of the proposal that have been put forward that are attractive but in many ways, it’s fallen financially short of what the goal should be,” Rep. Henry Helgerson, D-Wichita said.

Helgerson indicated legislators will have to come up with a steeper figure in the range of $500-600 million dollars.

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