school funding

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service, File Photo

A report commissioned by the Kansas Legislature made clear just how much it might cost to improve student outcomes at public schools.

It’s so expensive, says a new lobbying group, that it threatens the quality of Kansas roads, health care and other government functions.

The group wants to amend the state constitution, freeing lawmakers to dodge steep hikes in school spending. External experts argue that added money would be needed to fulfill promises to graduate high school students better prepared for college or the workplace.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Now that Republican leaders have a report they commissioned on school funding, it’s not clear they’ll pursue its recommendations to spend more for better student performance.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Getting most Kansas schoolchildren doing well enough in math and reading to stay on track for college could cost an extra $2 billion a year — or roughly half of what the state already spends on aid to local schools.

The figure comes from a report released Friday that lawmakers commissioned to help them judge the costs of getting better classroom results and to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order.

Derek Gavey / flickr Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers are looking for ways to come up with cash to respond to a court ruling that says the state needs to spend more on schools. Currently, the House Tax Committee is considering a plan to raise property taxes.

The proposal would boost property taxes over three years, topping out with a $659 million increase. The plan met urban and rural opposition in a hearing on Tuesday. Realtors said the tax hike would make it harder to buy a home. It would also hit farmers by raising taxes on their land.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service, File Photo

Even before releasing their results, consultants hired to guide Kansas lawmakers to a school funding plan that meets legal muster endured a grilling on Friday.

How, wondered lawmakers, would the consultants reach their conclusions on how much money school districts need to help students succeed academically? Why do the consultants seem to be excluding the overhead — non-classroom expenses of running schools — from their study? And what about criticism of work they’d done in other states?

Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas lawmakers head into the next stretch of this year’s legislative session after advancing bills offering tax breaks to some smaller businesses, compensation to people thrown in prison unjustly and a welcome mat to industrial chicken growers.

The bigger, harder questions before them remain unanswered. Since gaveling out on Thursday, they're taking off a few days.

Larry Darling, flickr Creative Commons

Kansas legislators see plenty of needs for spending across state government and are starting to complain that a court mandate puts schools first in line.

Prison staffing, state mental hospitals and highway projects are among the items lawmakers would like to fund. But an October state Supreme Court ruling that the $4 billion-plus the state spends on schools each year isn't adequate means that most conversations about money at the Statehouse revolve around schools.

Kansas News Service/File photo

The Kansas State Board of Education has approved an audit of how state funds are distributed to public schools following questions about the allocation of some dollars.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the board accepted a recommendation Tuesday from Education Commissioner Randy Watson. The review is expected to start within two months and will examine whether funds are distributed in keeping with the state's school funding law.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Imagine, teacher Shauna Hammett tells first-graders gathered around a small table, a train whistle.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

Newly installed Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer described his state Wednesday as vibrant but with trouble spots, telling lawmakers he plans to tackle its problems.

Colyer promised to reform the state’s struggling foster care system, improve its privatized Medicaid program, open government activities into clearer public view and help more Kansans find jobs.

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