education funding

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Kansas’ universities will see increased tuition for the 2017-18 academic year.

The Kansas Board of Regents passed tuition increases for state universities, according to a press release issued Thursday.

School districts across Kansas are breathing a bit easier after the Legislature passed a school funding plan and a tax law that provides the money for it.

Ideally, districts would want to have most of their budgets done by now so school boards could approve them and publish in August.

But not this year, as lawmakers have struggled to agree on a plan to adequately fund schools in the face of a June 30 deadline from the state Supreme Court. 

A school finance bill headed to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk would expand a program that funds private school tuition through tax credits.

Lawmakers passed the changes Monday. The provisions were just one portion of a much larger bill that primarily establishes a new system for funding Kansas public schools. 

A school finance plan that will add nearly $300 million over two years gained approval Monday night in the Kansas Legislature and now moves to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

Lawmakers faced a June 30 deadline to increase school funding after a March ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court that said current funding is inadequate. During debate, some lawmakers raised concerns that the $300 million plan will not satisfy the court and could make a special session likely.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Senators have approved a plan for funding K-12 schools. The 23-14 vote sends the bill to the House for consideration.

The proposal would increase spending by around $230 million over two years, after the state Supreme Court ruled in March that Kansas schools are inadequately funded.

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TOPEKA – Sen. Bud Estes, R-Dodge City, will try to ax a proposed $120 annual charge to water right owners to finance public schools.

“It has nothing to do with utility bills,” Estes said at the Monday afternoon meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance.

Senate Bill 251 contains the Senate’s proposed school finance formula and it would levy a $2.25 monthly charge on residential water, electric and natural gas bills. For non-residential customers, the monthly charge would be $10 on each of the three utilities.

A divided K-12 Education Budget Committee on Monday passed out a school funding plan for Kansas schools that essentially nobody likes.

It adds $279 million over two years: $179 million in the first year and $100 million in the second. After that, school funding would increase based on the inflation rate. The measure was kicked out of committee without recommendation.

When Kansas lawmakers started this legislative session in January, most agreed that comity was back, partnerships would be forged and work would get done.

That was then and this is now.

A trio of challenges remain as the Legislature on Sunday passed the 90-day mark in its session: a budget, a tax plan and a school funding formula.

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The Texas House Thursday approved a bill designed to inject over a billion dollars into public schools and simplify complicated funding formulas.

As The Texas Tribune reports, State Rep. Dan Huberty succeeded at a difficult task Wednesday: getting the Texas House of Representatives to vote for legislation overhauling the funding system for public education, without a court mandate.

The crowd filling the old Supreme Court room at the Kansas Statehouse expected a bit of a showdown Wednesday when the House K-12 Budget Committee discussed how much money to put into public education.

In the end, that debate lasted about 10 minutes and the committee stood pat on adding $150 million a year for five years for a total package of $750 million.

A Kansas legislative committee worked eight hours Thursday night and didn't come up with a new school funding formula.

But we now know the goal for how much new money will be added to try and satisfy the state Supreme Court which has ruled school funding in Kansas is inadequate.

“Our target was a $150 million over a period of five years, to escalate up slowly to a more constitutionally appropriate number,” says Rep. Melissa Rooker, a Republican from Fairway and a driving force to find more money for public education.

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

When it comes to education budgets, Texas colleges and universities are facing some dark days ahead, reports The Fort Worth Star Telegram.

The state Legislature has proposed deep cuts to higher education funding, and on top of that the Trump administration has suggested slashing Federal contributions, and Texas is considering freezing tuition rates.

Kansas legislative leaders took a couple of days to try to persuade some members of the House K-12 Budget Committee to accept $75 million more in school funding, according to legislators on both sides of the aisle.

But the hardball tactics apparently failed.

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A proposed Kansas school finance formula drew more fire this week, in the closing day of hearings on the plan.

Kansas lawmakers have waited for half the session to get a look at what will probably be the basis for a new school funding formula.

Rep. Larry Campbell, the chairman of the House K-12 Education Budget Committee, released an outline of the measure Tuesday.

It looks a lot like the formula scrapped two years ago for block grants, a funding scheme ruled unconstitutional earlier this month by the Kansas Supreme Court.

It took many by surprise, but the Kansas Senate Ways and Means Committee passed out a bill Tuesday that would cut $154 million out of the budget by July 1, the vast majority coming from education.

Of the proposed cuts, education shoulders 98 percent of the total. More than $127 million of the cuts would come from K-12 and another $23 million from higher education. 

In Johnson County, the plan would result in millions of dollars in cuts:

Like many other professions, rural Kansas is falling short on teachers, but so are some urban areas in the state. A new program at Kansas State University aims to change all that.

As KCUR reports, K-State has developed a one-year, online program for those with undergraduate degrees to take to get a masters’ degree in elementary teaching.

Evan Vucci / AP photo/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Proponents of private school vouchers and charter school expansion in Texas may have reason to celebrate once Donald Trump takes office in January.

Trump’s education policy plans mostly remain shrouded in mystery. But, as The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, the president-elect has indicated that one of his first priorities will be to reform what he calls “school choice.”

Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle

Texas is keeping tens of thousands of kids out of special education who might, in other states, be considered special ed students.

That’s because, over a decade ago, Texas officials decided on a percentage of students that should get special education services. That number is 8.5 percent, and it is an arbitrary figure that doesn’t change according to how many students are actually in need.

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Jason Unboun / Texas Tribune

Texas’s complicated method for funding its public schools has increasingly come under criticism in recent years. Last week the case finally reached the state Supreme Court, reports The Texas Tribune. The high court upheld the state’s public school funding as constitutional, but didn’t exactly praise the system.

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Should you for some reason happen to be in the basement of the Oklahoma capitol next Wednesday afternoon, you’re going to witness an impressive sight.

Up to 40 Oklahoma’s educators will arrive ready to fill out applications to run for state elected office, reports News 9 Oklahoma City. The public school workers are running to try in response to deep cuts to education funding in the state, which have gutted schools and left students in the lurch.

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Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has signed a school finance bill in response to an order from the Kansas Supreme Court, reports the Garden City Telegram. With its order, the court intends to develop a more equitable education funding system.

Harvard Political Review

When it comes to public school coverage by the mainstream media, rural schools get the short end of the stick. David Gutierrez recently wrote about the problem for Harvard Political Review, explaining: “This disparity in media coverage is understandable. The crumbling infrastructure of cities, the poverty and segregation faced by inner-city students, and the presence of a school-to-prison pipeline are all serious problems that demand reforms. But . . .

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When it comes to supporting public schools, all 50 states are doing a bad job, according to a new study. A report card was issued this week by the Network for Public Education, says The Washington Post. Some states fared better than others, though no state scored above a C grade.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Over the past few years hundreds of teacher have left Oklahoma for better pay elsewhere. This mass exodus of teachers has left the state desperate to fill the empty classrooms, reports member station KOSU. One such teacher said he’s bringing in $30,000 more per year, along with his wife, teaching in Arkansas. He thinks the reason Arkansas pays more is because their taxes are higher. “The difference in Oklahoma,” he said, “is tax cut, tax cut, tax cut.”

Okahoma Lottery

Oklahoma school districts are being forced to slash their budgets in the middle of the school year, reports KFOR. It’s a seemingly impossible task to adjust budgets at this point in the year. And many Oklahomans are wondering, where is the lottery money that was supposed to help the schools?

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Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and Kansas lawmakers say they won't consider increasing funding to public schools until they’re sure the money already spent on education is finding its way into the classroom. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that GOP lawmakers don't yet have a clear definition of what makes up classroom spending. Brownback said: “Right now, you've got this high percentage that's not getting to the classroom.”

Kansas K-12 Committee Grapples with Conflicting Data

Dec 1, 2015
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A Kansas legislative committee studying options for K-12 funding has run into a problem, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal. As the committee decides how to fund schools, they have competing research trying to influence them. Rival interest groups are flaunting a clash of studies to promote their positions. First there’s the Kansas Policy Institute, a conservative think tank in Wichita.

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Oklahoma has been issuing emergency teacher licenses over the past few months, reports Public Radio Tulsa. The move comes after Oklahoma started the year with over 1,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state. Not long ago, emergency certificate requests were so rare that applicants were summoned before the state Board of Education to make their case. But Oklahoma has approved 948 emergency certifications for teachers since July.

Rural Colorado Struggles to Find Teachers

Oct 7, 2015
Jenny Brundin / CPR News

Colorado’s rural school districts are on the brink of crisis when it comes to finding enough teachers to fill the classrooms. Colorado is simply not producing enough teachers, reports Colorado Public Radio. Over the past five years, enrollments in the state's teacher prep schools are down 23 percent. Math, science and special education teachers are especially in demand. Colorado has begun to recruit educators in states with teacher surpluses, such as Michigan and Utah.

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