School funding bill to provide tax relief and more money for schools

WICHITA , Kansas – One major part of the new education funding bill allows districts to spend more money on students while still lowering the property taxes in the district.

So, we’re asking:  if districts are providing property tax relief– how does that equal more money for schools?

Legislators gave districts the green light to raise the Base Budget Per Pupil from $4,433 to $4,490. Those numbers are already higher than the current amount of about $3,800.  Dr. Mark Tallman with the Kansas Association of School Boards says because districts are really using these “inflated false numbers” it allows districts to raise the local operating budget (or L.O.B.) while still providing property tax relief.

“What the legislature did in this bill is for the next two years they have increased that artificial base so instead of pretending it’s $4,433 districts will be able to pretend it’s $4,490 and 30 percent of $4490 is more than $4,433,” Tallman said.

The Director of the Kansas Association of School Boards says by doing this districts don’t need voter approval to boost the percentage of the a local operating budget’s percent. But districts will need a mil levy to make it possible

Newton’s Assistant Superintendent Dr. Russell Miller says the state’s promise of about $73 million upfront, or about $14 dollars per student, is a good start.

“Restoring the equalization is a good step, my fear is that it’s a little bit of a band aid at this point, Dr. Miller said.

In most cases, the bulk of the equalization money will go toward property tax relief. It’s up to each district to adjust the total amount in the local operating budget to raise money that can actually be spent.

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