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KSSA School Finance Statement of Position

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Please find the Kansas School Superintendents’ Association’s position statement released this morning.

On behalf of the Kansas School Superintendents Association (KSSA), we want to reach out and share a couple of items. First, thank you for all your legislative efforts. Your voices are being heard and change appears to be on the horizon. Second, the job is not finished. Through the leadership of the House K-12 Education Budget Committee Chair Larry Campbell, the committee has developed a school finance plan, HB 2410, which over five-years increases school budgets $751,863,231.

KSSA believes this proposal should only be considered a solid start to a possible school finance formula that meets the diverse needs of our students.  Last spring, the Kansas State Board of Education recommended an increase in school funding in the amount of $893,497,231 in order to fund the initiatives found in the new KansasCan vision and the accountability of the new Kansas Educational Systems Accreditation.  The Kansas State Board recommended the restoration of adequate funding occur over a two-year period. KSSA believes this increase is more indicative of the funding needs, knowing the current expectations being placed on school districts in the coming years. Rolling the additional funding over five years causes great concern, as this would mean three different legislative bodies would have to keep the promise of funding schools and a good portion of the increase would be absorbed by the cost of inflation.

As you continue to share, discuss, and answer questions with your local legislators, please know the message KSSA will be sharing with legislative leadership is the (restoration of adequate funding) increase should be $893,497,231. We understand that legislators are facing projected shortfalls in future years and may need to spread out the increase over two to three years. If you haven’t already, KSSA would encourage you and your board to have an implementation plan ready to share with your legislators. We believe it is important your representatives understand how your district would infuse these dollars into the classroom, program changes, staffing additions, and other academic enrichment opportunities for students.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Cory Gibson – KSSA President
Suzan Patton – KSSA President Elect
G.A. Buie – KSSA Executive Director
785-232-6566

LINK TO E-MAIL

H.B. 2410 Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act Testimony

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Chairman Campbell, Members of the Committee:

Schools For Fair Funding is a coalition of 40 Kansas school districts comprised of 135,241
students, or 30% of the students in Kansas. Thank you for the opportunity to present our views on HB2410.

We are testifying OPPOSED to this bill due to the issues outlined herein.
In judging the constitutionality of any school finance bill, the Kansas Constitution is the
guidestar. The Kansas Supreme Court has further defined just what our Constitution requires to guide us. Most recently, in the Gannon case, the Court has provided the most detailed articulation of the requirements. There are two components a bill must provide to pass constitutional muster: It must provide for adequacy and equity.

Adequacy:
“To determine compliance with the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas
Constitution, Kansas courts apply the test from Rose v. Council for Better Educ., Inc.,
790 S.W.2d 186 (Ky. 1989), which establishes minimal standards for providing adequate
education. More specifically, the adequacy requirement is met when the public
education financing system provided by the legislature for grades K-12—through
structure and implementation—is reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public
education students meet or exceed the standards set out in Rose….”

Read the complete testimony here:  SFFFtestimonyHB2410final (1) 

Senate President to propose cuts to education again.

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More calls and contacts are needed NOW. Sometimes a bad idea just never dies. Cutting school funding this year is one of them.  This is called the “rescission bill” because it rescinds current funding. The original plan was to cut schools 5% yet this year. Thanks to your efforts, this idea met with such a firestorm of opposition that Senate President Susan Wagle did not even bring the bill to the floor. But… bad ideas apparently never die.

We are hearing that Senator Wagle will bring the Rescission Bill to the floor on Wednesday and that it now contains a 2% to 2½% cut to the schools yet this year. A 2½% cut is about $64M.

The supreme court has just mandated that we ADD money to schools, not take it away.  Now is the time to call your senator and explain why cutting funding at any level is a bad idea.

1) When the block grant bill was passed, the schools were promised this would be stable funding and not subject to cuts. Cutting the schools now breaks that promise.

2) Any cuts to schools are very late in the year. Schools will have to take steps to make these cuts immediately and cannot wait for a later bill that may restore some of the cuts next year. These are cuts in this year’s budget. Any money in school balances is there for a good reason. It is certainly not “extra money.” (Ask the highway fund folks if that was “extra money.”)

3) Leadership argument: Everyone should share the pain in hard times. Not so fast… Our forefathers thought so dearly about our schools that they gave our schools priority in the Kansas Constitution. School funding is NOT optional. THE SCHOOLS MUST BE FUNDED ACCORDING TO OUR CONSTITUTION.

4) This budget crisis is a self-inflicted wound. There are other more reasonable ways to balance this year’s budget which doesn’t hurt kids. The budget crisis was caused by an overzealous tax cut plan which persists. While it may be too late in the year to fix the current budget problem with new taxes, there are other avenues open to patching the budget until they can raise revenues through a responsible tax increase. The Pooled Money Investment Fund is the most likely answer. It is essentially the state “savings account.” It is large enough to cover the deficit.  It is feasible to borrow from this fund to get out of this year rather than cut our schools. While none of us like another one-time fix, those in power have waited soooo long to address the matter this year that there are no other responsible choices.

5) Leadership argument: We must cut now, but will put the money back in a new formula. Schools have heard this promise before. They delayed a payment to KPERS last year, stating that the payment would be made later. That payment has now been kicked down the road for years. It may never be made.

6) Leadership argument: We must put some “blood on the table” in the form of cuts to the schools to get others to vote for tax increases. This very question shows the cynicism in Topeka. Said another way… The kids do not really matter in all of this, we must cut their educations to “play the game.” Reject this game playing. It is our kids “blood” on the table.

7) The Kansas Supreme Court has just found that our schools are unconstitutionally underfunded. It is not logical to cut the schools further in the face of this mandate to increase school funding.

8) Everybody has to compromise. No, this is not the case. We prioritize things in our lives every day. The electric company does not compromise on the monthly electric bill, the gas station does not compromise on the cost of a gallon of gas and the schools, which are protected by a constitutional mandate, should not compromise their funding. Constitutional rights are not to be compromised away in political games.

9) The schools were FIRST in line for the cuts in 2009. Remind your legislators that the base was reduced from $4433 to $3780 from 2009-11. This was a $653 per pupil cut or 14.7% cut. The courts have since (last week!) found theses funding levels to be unconstitutionally low. Cutting additional funding now will only make matters worse when it comes to complying with the court order. Please recall that when legislators were put in an economic bind in 2009, they told you that schools were the only choice for cuts and that they would restore the cuts ASAP. Rather than restore your cuts, they cut taxes in 2012. They are now saying they will cut today and restore the cuts in a new formula. They used up their “trust us” line in 2012. Suggest they do the new formula with the additional money FIRST.

10) Not one of these senators told voters that they were headed to Topeka to cut the schools.

Find your senator’s contact information:  Senate Roster 

Gannon Ruling – Adequacy

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You may read the Gannon ruling in its entirety here.

2017-03-02-supreme-court-adequacy-decision

Testimony – H.B. 2344

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Group of Elementary Pupils In Classroom

House K – 12 Education Budget Committee H. B. 2344

 Requiring the Adoption of Local Foundation Budgets and the Levying of Local Property Taxes for the Finance Thereof
Testimony submitted by Schools For Fair Funding
Bill Brady
February 17, 2017

Chairman Campbell, Members of the Committee:

Schools For Fair Funding is a coalition of 40 Kansas school districts comprised of 135,241 students, or 30% of the students in Kansas. Thank you for the opportunity to present our views on HB 2344.

We are testifying as an opponent on this bill due to the issues outlined herein. In judging the constitutionality of any school finance bill, the Kansas Constitution is the guidestar. The Kansas Supreme Court has further defined just what our Constitution requires to guide us. Most recently, in the Gannon case, the Court has provided the most detailed articulation of the requirements. There are two components a bill must provide to pass constitutional muster: It must provide for adequacy and equity.

“To determine compliance with the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution, Kansas courts apply the test from Rose v. Council for Better Educ., Inc., 790 S.W.2d 186 (Ky. 1989), which establishes minimal standards for providing adequate education. More specifically, the adequacy requirement is met when the public education financing system provided by the legislature for grades K-12—through structure and implementation—is reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed the standards set out in Rose….

“To determine compliance with the equity requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution… school districts must have reasonably equal access to substantially similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort.”

HB 2344 must pass these two tests to meet constitutional requirements.

Adequacy. KSDE runs were not available to us at the time that testimony was due, but we believe that this bill would provide decreased, not increased funding to the majority of school districts and there is no consideration of student or district costs or needs. This bill would not meet the Kansas Supreme Court’s adequacy requirement.

State Level Foundation Obligation, Local Foundation Budget and Local Option Budget. Sections 1 and 2 of the bill create a State Level Foundation Obligation, a Local Foundation Budget and a separate Local Option Budget.

The State Level Foundation Obligation is whatever is raised by the statewide 20 mill levy.

The Local Foundation Budget is a pool of unequalized locally levied funds that equal 20% of a district’s former “weighted” enrollment times $5000. This is akin to a former LOB of 20% computed on a base of $5000. There appears to no equalization mechanism for these local funds. The supreme court has held that if local moneys are to be raised, they must be equalized across the state to meet the constitutional equity test. This could be cured by adding an equalization mechanism that mirrors the former LOB equalization mechanism.

The Local Option Budget is an additional unequalized source of local funding. It is up to 5% of a combined State Level Foundation Obligation, Local Foundation Budget.

Any Local Option Budget is capped at the lesser of any prior LOB resolution or 5%. This could mean massive funding reductions for certain districts. It is impossible to know without KSDE runs.

The Local Option Budget amount is grandfathered in at an amount that a school board “was authorized to adopt.” Since the former formula and LOB statutes have been repealed, there are no current resolutions authorizing ANY LOB for any district.

Additionally, if the bill is meant to refer back to prior adopted LOB, then the bill grandfathers every district’s former Local Option Budget into the new scheme. While most districts had a LOB of 30%, the more wealthy districts were able to implement a 33% LOB. Grandfathering this level of LOB for the more wealthy districts does not pass the constitutional equity test. It does not provide “substantially similar educational opportunity.” These districts are grandfathered to a 3% advantage.

LOB Protest petition and election requirement. Section 3 provides for a district to increase its Local Option Budget only by a protest petition and election process. This procedure was found to be unconstitutional by the Gannon trial court as a violation of the equity test. It does not allow equal access to resources.

Election required. Section 3 of the bill requires an election should a district desire to adopt a Local Option Budget between 4% and 5%. This procedure was found to be unconstitutional by the Gannon trial court as a violation of the equity test. It does not allow equal access to resources.

LOB Levy. Section 4 provides that each district will raise any foundation aid not raised by the 20 mill levy and any LOB. There is no equalization provided. This will cause vastly different mill levies between districts. This clearly does not meet the Kansas Supreme Court’s equity test. The effect of this bill is to transfer increased mill levy requirements for education, a state

The effect of this bill is to transfer increased mill levy requirements for education, a state duty and responsibility, to local districts. The constitution and courts have required that local levies be equalized to avoid wealth based disparities. This bill does not accomplish that task.

State level responsibilities should be paid by…. the state. Unfunded mandates are almost
universally disapproved. This is an unfunded mandate and a mandate that unconstitutionally discriminates against less wealthy districts.

Testimony – H.B. 2346

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Group of Elementary Pupils In Classroom

House K – 12 Education Budget Committee
H. B. 2346

Administration of School District Finance by the State Board of Education
Testimony submitted by Schools For Fair Funding
Bill Brady
February 17, 2017

Chairman Campbell, Members of the Committee:

Schools For Fair Funding is a coalition of 40 Kansas school districts comprised of 135,241 students, or 30% of the students in Kansas. Thank you for the opportunity to present our views on HB 2346.

Schools For Fair funding testifying opposed to this bill due to the issues outlined herein.

In judging the constitutionality of any school finance bill, the Kansas Constitution is the
guidestar. The Kansas Supreme Court has further defined just what our Constitution requires to guide us. Most recently, in the Gannon case, the Court has provided the most detailed articulation of the requirements. There are two components a bill must provide to pass constitutional muster: It must provide for adequacy and equity.

“To determine compliance with the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution, Kansas courts apply the test from Rose v. Council for Better Educ., Inc., 790 S.W.2d 186 (Ky. 1989), which establishes minimal standards for providing adequate education. More specifically, the adequacy requirement is met when the public education financing system provided by the legislature for grades K-12—through structure and implementation—is reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed the standards set out in Rose….”

“To determine compliance with the equity requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution… school districts must have reasonably equal access to substantially
similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort.”

HB 2346 must pass these two tests to meet constitutional requirements.

Responsibility shift to State Board of Education. The bill shifts total responsibility for the allocation of school district finance to the State Board of Education. While this is a constitutionally mandated elected body of ten members whose sole function is to supervise the schools, by its nature and number, it is less representative than 165 representatives and senators together with the governor. Schools, teachers and patrons would have much more opportunity for input and redress with their representatives, senators and governor than with only ten State Board of Education members. Additionally, the bill retains the appropriation duty with the legislature and governor. Shifting the allocation duty to the State Board of Education does nothing to solve the underappropriation of resources for the schools that has occurred. The court
decisions in Gannon specifically found that the problem was NOT with the manner in which resources were allocated under the formula, the problem was with not enough resources being appropriated by the legislature. This bill would not fix the problem.

School District State Aid insufficient. Section 1 of the bill sets forth state aid to school districts in the amount of $4.075M. This does not appear to be an increase in resources.

The Gannon trial court suggested that in 2012 dollars the base should be increased from $3852 to $4980 to meet adequacy requirements. At a 2.5% rate of inflation this base would increase at the rate of $125 per pupil per year. This equates to a base of $5730 in 2018 dollars. Doing away with the base and still appropriating the same total funds will not solve the adequacy requirement.

It would appear that HB 2346 is roughly $1B short. The courts have recognized and applied inflation factors to education funding to maintain adequacy. This bill does not appear to pass the adequacy test according to the trial court in Gannon. This could be cured by increasing the appropriation amount in the bill.

Grandfathering LOB amounts. Section 8 of the bill grandfathers every district’s former Local Option Budget into the new scheme. While most districts had a LOB of 30%, the more wealthy districts were able to implement a 33% LOB. Grandfathering this level of LOB for the more wealthy districts does not pass the constitutional equity test. It does not provide “substantially similar educational opportunity.” These districts are grandfathered to a 3% advantage. The bill provides no methodology for districts to increase their LOB in future years. This locks in the inequity moving forward. This could be cured by simply allowing all districts to adopt a 33% LOB should they so choose.

Declining Enrollment Levy not equalized. Section 10 provides that districts with declining enrollment may levy additional funds, but this levy has not been equalized in the past and there are no additional funds appropriated that could cover this. This is an equity test violation. This can be cured by adding an equalization scheme that mirrors LOB equalization.

Ancillary Levy not equalized. Section 11 provides that districts with new facilities may levy additional funds, but this levy has not been equalized in the past and there are no additional funds appropriated that could cover this. This is an equity test violation. This can be cured by adding an equalization scheme that mirrors LOB equalization.

Cost of living levy protest petition and election requirement. Section 12 provides that cost of living levy be subject to the protest petition and election requirement. This procedure for LOB was found to be unconstitutional by the Gannon trial court as a violation of the equity test. It does not allow equal access to resources. This can be cured by simply making cost of living levy available upon board of education resolution.

Cost of living levy not equalized. Section 12 provides for a cost of living levy, however the cost of living levy, but this levy is has not been equalized in the past and there are no additional funds appropriated that could cover this. This is an equity test violation. This can be cured by adopting an equalization scheme that mirrors LOB equalization for these levies.