This Tuesday, the Kansas Senate approved a multi-year school finance plan that will increase per pupil aid by $148 and raise the local option budget cap to 33% in the next two school years.
During debate, Senators created a “trigger” to help ensure poorer districts will receive at least 92% of the equalization aid they are due next school year, and 100% during the 2013-2014 school year. If these minimums aren’t met, schools will not be allowed to increase their local option budgets.
I voted for the trigger because it guarantees that poorer districts will receive the same funding as wealthier districts that are capable of raising local property taxes to pay for education.
In just three years, Kansas public schools have faced seven rounds of devastating cuts. Base state aid per pupil in now 12% below what it was in 2009, while school district general fund budgets are down nearly 9%. These cuts equate to a net loss of $18,000 to every Kansas classroom.
As a result, local school boards have been forced to increase fees, increase class sizes and increase local property taxes just to make ends meet.
Every Kansas child deserves to go to a good, safe school. Unfortunately, cuts to public education have gone too far. I voted for this plan because it begins restoring cuts to our public schools immediately, and puts the legislature in a position to provide a top quality education to every Kansas child.