NEWTON, Kansas – Kansas lawmakers did what the Kansas Supreme Court told them to do this session. A new bill will put about $130 million more into schools.
But some schools say the legislative session will actually cut their bottom line.
“The reality is, our district is losing approximately $360,000 in budget authority for next year,” explains Dr. Deborah Hamm, Superintendent of Newton Schools. “Part of that is related to our changing enrollment. Most of the cuts come from at-risk kids, and we are losing weightings that we get from the state of Kansas.”
Newton is not alone. Hutchinson schools is losing more than a $100,000.
Lawrence schools says it will lose nearly $2 million because of changes in budget authority.
“With budget authority, some of it could be made up with LOB,” says Dr. Hamm of Newton. “But in our case, we don’t have room to do that.”
Some say the local option budget increase is just that, a local option where taxpayers in a school district make up money not paid by the state.
“Bottom line, could we use more money from the state?” asks Dr. Hamm. “Of course, we could, and yes, we have cut for years.”
“Our district has suffered for many consecutive years with going to our staff and going to our board and how do we cut? How do we cut? How do we cut?” says Dr. Hamm. “Lawmakers in Topeka they’re funding and (then) creating another inequitable situation with our kids that need the extra support the most.”
Dr. Hamm says some schools will lose money on “weighting” formulas where schools can get more money for at risk students.
Some schools, however, will see a net increase in funding under the new school finance bill that continues to be controversial.
But for those that will lost money, they are wondering what comes next.
“Well, next year, let’s just wait and see what happens,” says Dr. Hamm. “The reality now is that we have to find more than $350,000 for our district. Do we dip into our reserves? We may have to.”
Some school districts are trying to raise more cast from taxpayers by raising their local option budget.
How district budgets will be affected
On the chart in the related link, column #1 is primarily local property tax and equalized stat aid. Any cash balance carried forward reduces the succeeding year’s state aid. Expenditures from the general fund are limited by state law and may be transferred to numerous program and weighted funds such as four-year-old at-risk, K-12 at-risk, bilingual education, driver education, food service, parents as teachers, special education, vocational education, professional development, etc.
On the chart in the related link, column #2 is based on the number of students qualifying for free meals and those who scored non-proficient on the state reading or mathematics assessment. The funds will be deposited in the general fund and transferred to the K-12 at-risk fund.
On the chart in the related link, column #4 is the changes to districts’ general fund, the money they use directly for classrooms and teachers.