Kansans want school funding formula to hold districts accountable

Dave TrabertEducation

School districts and unions are lobbying hard to resurrect Kansas’ outdated funding formula with a lot more money added but citizens clearly want something else.  A new market research study released last week shows that Kansans overwhelmingly want a school funding formula that holds districts accountable for spending money efficiently and for improving outcomes.  SurveyUSA conducted the study on behalf of Kansas Policy Institute between February 3 and February 8; with participation of 501 registered voters, the survey has a Credibility Interval of ± 4.5 percentage points.

The survey shows 84 percent of Kansans want the new school funding formula to include some requirement for spending money efficiently and only 9 percent are opposed. That overwhelming sentiment crosses all geographic and ideological boundaries.  This is in stark contrast to the feeling within the education community, as school district and union lobbyists push back hard against any attempt to require efficient spending.

Citizens also strongly believe that the new school funding formula should hold districts accountable for improving outcomes, meaning there would be a consequence for not improving outcomes at the building level.  Again, the sentiment crosses all geographical and ideological boundaries with 69 percent of Kansans calling for outcome accountability statewide and only 21 percent opposed.

These results show Kansas care more about students and outcomes, but it’s not good news for those who just want billions more spent with no accountability, which probably explains why, except for public radio and The Sentinel, mainstream media won’t report the results.

The House K-12 Budget Committee has begun hearing a variety school funding formula proposals but Senate President Susan Wagle seems unwilling to allow deliberations to begin until she gets a 5 percent school funding cut approved this year.  Citizens and students shouldn’t be used as political pawns and hopefully, legislators will soon begin earnest deliberations on a new school funding formula that puts students first and holds school districts accountable for better outcomes and efficient use of taxpayer money.

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