The new school funding formula (SB 19) ensures another lawsuit

David DorseyEducation

More than a decade ago the Kansas Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of injecting itself into the legislative process, ordering the Legislature to cough up an additional $853 million per year to fund K-12 education in its landmark Montoy decision. The Legislature caved, allowing the Court to usurp the constitutional authority of the power of the purse from that … Read More

New school finance law will do nothing to improve outcomes of at-risk students

David DorseyEducation

The Legislature blew it. Given a golden opportunity to give serious attention to the issue of low performance and the huge achievement gaps of Kansas at-risk students, the Legislature instead chose to appease the Supreme Court through an increase in funding. The new school finance law – SB 19 – is full of language aimed at improving educational outcomes of … Read More

$1.6 Billion Pension Payouts; Over 2,000 KPERS ‘Millionaires’

Dave TrabertEducation, Tax & Spending

An Open Records request fulfilled by the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) shows record-setting payouts in 2016 of $1.6 billion.   The number of KPERS ‘millionaires’ also set a new record, with 2,007 government retirees expected to receive more than $1 million in pension benefits over their first 20 years of retirement.  Pensions are paid over the lifespan of each … Read More

New School Funding Formula is Bad for Students and Citizens

Dave TrabertEducation

The new school funding formula on its way to the Governor’s desk could have been a lot worse if the education lobby got all it wanted, but it’s still bad legislation for students and citizens.  The funding is much higher than necessary, causing citizens to be excessively taxed, and most important, schools are not held accountable for improving outcomes. The … Read More

Education funding bill overspends, fails to hold schools accountable

David DorseyEducation

The new K-12 education bill passed by the Kansas Legislature and sent to Governor Brownback for signature fails to hold schools accountable for improving student achievement and by failing to correct a math error, overspends by hundreds of millions going forward. Instead the law focuses on satisfying a fickle Supreme Court. The law – SB 19 – is not “reasonably … Read More

U.S. Supreme Court decision could reduce the Blaine amendment effect

David DorseyEducation

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments last month in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley, a Columbia, Missouri case that has the potential to significantly change the application of church/state separation, including the funding of education. In this case, the church wanted to replace its pre-school playground with recycled tire rubber from the state of Missouri. The … Read More

$11 Billion School Debt Exceeds State Debt

Dave TrabertEducation, Tax & Spending

Given media and legislative hyperventilation over state debt levels, one would never know that Kansas’ 286 school districts are deeper in hock than the State of Kansas and its component units (universities, turnpike authority, etc.).  School districts set a new record last year of $5.56 billion in bonded indebtedness and they also have $5.4 billion in unfunded pension liability, putting … Read More

79 Districts Lost Students, Added Staff

Dave TrabertEducation

You’d never know it from media reports or listening to the education lobby in Topeka, but 79 districts that lost students this year actually increased employment!  And perhaps the greatest complainer of them all – Kansas City – added more employees than students. The adjacent table includes some of the more eye-opening disparities.  Hutchinson (one of the districts diverting money … Read More

Dedicating Income Tax to Schools is Just Pandering; There’s Also a Downside

Dave TrabertEducation, Tax & Spending

Dedicating income tax collections to school funding is the latest “Here, hold my beer” notion to come out of the Kansas Legislature this session, proving once again Thomas Sowell’s take on politics.  He said, “No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems.  They are trying to solve their own problems … Read More

School Debt Sets New Record at $5.56 Billion

Dave TrabertEducation

Kansas school bond debt set another record for the 2015-16 school year at $5.56 billion spread across 183 districts.  Data provided by the Kansas Department of Education shows school districts loaded up on a lot of new debt since 2005: $5.2 billion in new bond debt was issued by 149 districts. Debt Service payments totaled $4.9 billion. Bonded indebtedness increased $2.4 billion … Read More