The Buzz

Kansas lawmakers take up bill cutting school funding by $40 million

Kansas lawmakers Tuesday morning started hashing out a major revision to the school finance formula that could cost Johnson County schools millions of dollars.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is considering a bill that would recalculate how the state divides up money that’s intended to bridge the gap between property-rich and property-poor school districts.

Some conservative lawmakers are particularly upset over the fact that affluent communities such as Blue Valley in Johnson County are receiving money that is intended to compensate them for being impoverished.

That’s because the money is doled out to school districts based on how much taxable property value they have on the books — per student. That means even a wealthy school district like Blue Valley might enjoy that money while a poorer district with a smaller student enrollment but a high tax base would not perhaps enjoy as much money, if any.

Opponents of the bill argue it would devastate school budgets and skirt the state’s constitutional obligation to adequately fund schools. Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered lawmakers to put more money into education to fill funding gap between rich and poor school districts.

Changing the formula would save the state about $40 million, but will cost the Shawnee Mission School District $4.2 million, Blue Valley $3.4 million, Olathe $2.6 million and Kansas City, Kan. $1.1 million.

To reach Brad Cooper, call 816-234-7724 or send email to bcooper@kcstar.com.

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