Fairfield Parents and Community,
The Supreme Court has set a deadline for legislators to find a school funding formula that is equitable before June 30th. The legislation and governor have passed a bill, HB 2665 that will be required to pass the Court’s provision of equity.
The oral arguments will be presented May 10th with a decision to follow. This bill redistributes funds so that 23 districts receive a net increase in Local Option Budget and Capital Outlay state aid. It also allows districts that lose LOB to increase their property tax levy. As it stands, USD 310 will be held harmless from any further cuts due to this bill at this time. However, with the budget estimates being lowered for the fourth time in two years, Governor Brownback has recommended allotments (cuts) to anything from road construction, KPERS payments, and to the K-12 funding, or general aid to schools that would affect us. Currently, legislators face a $94 million shortfall for the current fiscal year that ends June 30th as well as another $135 million decreased for next fiscal year for a total of $229 million the next 15 months.
The plan to reduce K-12 funding would take place next fiscal year of over $57 million. This goes against the block grant protection included in the rhetoric that was provided in persuading the public to accept the stagnation of school funding for two years while legislators found a better school funding formula, to which there has been very little productivity heading into the second year of the block grant. The only significant public development has come from the chairs of the education committees of each house that includes raising a mandatory mill rate of 35 for all district as well as blocks the ability to fund any extra-curricular activities or administrative positions to name a few. If a district wants any of these things, it must be raised locally and has to be voted by the public every five years. There is a lot more questions surrounding this formula than answers or solutions to the issues in my estimation.
Public education is the most significant investment a state can make to strengthen an economy, there are studies that prove this. We owe it to our kids to ensure a high quality education in Kansas. The time is now to be politically supportive of the future of public education. I am afraid that if slash and burn cuts to K-12 education as well as higher education will have long lasting negative effects to our programs.
Yours in education,
USD 310 Fairfield