Special group of Kansas lawmakers tackling new school funding formula

TOPEKA, Kan. -
Kansas lawmakers are finally tackling one of their toughest problems— how to pay for K-12 education. 
 
On Monday a select group of lawmakers, the K-12 Education Budget Committee, began discussions on a new school funding formula. 
 
“Our biggest job this session is crafting a new school finance formula,” said Rep. Melissa Rooker, R- Fairway. "The block grant expires at the end of this session, this fiscal year, and it is our obligation to come up with a new plan. I have every confidence we can do it.” 
 
The K-12 committee was created this year by Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman, R- Olathe. 
 
The committee is made up of 15 lawmakers from all over the state, with all different backgrounds. Some lawmakers are farmers, others are business owners. There are also retired teachers and current professors, like Rep. Valdenia Winn. 
 
"The major concerns are that it passes the court scrutiny and that’s it’s equitable and adequate,” said Winn, D- Kansas City, Kansas. 
 
 
Two years ago, state lawmakers repealed the state’s old school funding formula and replaced it with a two-year block grant system. Several schools sued, arguing school funding was inequitable and inadequate. 
 
Last year, the state Supreme Court ruled that the block grant system was inequitable. Their ruling on adequacy, whether the state is spending enough money on education, is still pending. 
 
“We’re of course waiting for the courts to rule again but at the end of the day we are going to have to buckle down and revisit some of those same components of the other formula,” said Winn. 
 
The committee meets every day at 1:30 p.m. in the Old Supreme Court room on the third floor in the Capitol.

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Ariel Rothfield can be reached at Ariel.Rothfield@KSHB.com.

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