A new school financing law that Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed last month created winners and losers. The Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley school districts emerged in the winners’ bracket.
Superintendents from both Johnson County districts supported the new law, which will provide consistent funding in the form of block grants over the next two years, while lawmakers work on a more permanent formula.
Superintendent Jim Hinson said the funding in Shawnee Mission’s block grant would be enough to reduce class sizes and eliminate some fees. It would even enable the district to offer full-day kindergarten to all families at no cost.
But that’s not to say parents should start canceling the afternoon child care arrangements.
The prospect that Shawnee Mission, or any school district, will receive the money anticipated from their block grants is dubious, at best.
For one thing, some of the school districts that have been challenging the adequacy of education financing in Kansas have filed legal action to stop the block grant change from taking effect. A court ruling in their favor could throw the situation back into flux.
Also, a budget passed by the Kansas Senate already spends more than $600 million than the state anticipates receiving in revenues. Many legislators and analysts expect that gap to grow even bigger when new revenue forecasts are announced next week. There is no consensus among lawmakers on how, or even whether, to raise taxes.
Education is the single greatest expense in the cash-strapped Kansas budget. If lawmakers resort to further cuts to school districts, everyone will end up as losers.