Kansas State Board of Education

Kansas school spending advocates sue; opportunity for reform is overlooked

Lost in the news last week was the announcement of a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against Kansas taxpayers in order to gain more funding for public schools. But now that the election is over, Kansans are starting to turn their attention to this lawsuit. So far, the discussion is missing something that could solve our problems without spending any additional money. In its search to find a solution to the problem of funding its government schools, Kansas is overlooking a sure solution: widespread school choice. While proponents of public school spending argue that school choice programs drain away dollars from needy, underfunded…
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Balance Kansas budget without raising sales tax

The following article is by Dr. Walt Chappell, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education. A version appeared in the Wichita Eagle. Chappell has offered testimony to the Kansas Legislature on many ways that schools can reduce spending and fulfill their mission at the same time. See Kansas school district consolidation, reorganization testimony heard and At House Appropriations, Chappell presents Kansas school funding ideas. On Saturday, a legislative update was held in Wichita. It is clear that serious budget decisions must be made in the next two weeks by our legislators. Fortunately, existing cash reserves, cost controls and…
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Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 16, 2010. School consolidation measures deliberated in House (Kansas Liberty) "The Kansas House tentatively approved a plan today that would allow three or more school districts to consolidate into two districts. House Bill 2704 originally included two consolidation-promoting components, but one of the components was stripped off on the House floor under the direction of Rep. Bill Light, R-Rolla." Concealed-carry bill stalls in committee (Kansas Liberty) "Legislation promoting an alteration to the state‚Äôs concealed-carry law has been sitting in the House Federal and State Affairs committee since its February hearing. House Bill…
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Kansas schools fail to make cut for grants

Last year Secretary of Education Arne Duncan created a program named "Race to the Top" which would make grants to states that are willing to make certain reforms. Two such reforms prominently mentioned by Duncan and President Barack Obama are charter schools and merit pay for teachers. We now know that Kansas was not selected to receive a grant, at least not in the first round. Kansas had applied for $166 million. Kansas is falling behind the rest of the states in the types of innovation that Race to the Top was designed to promote. Specifically, the Kansas charter school…
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For Kansas teachers union, fund balances are an illusion, not a solution

Today's edition of Under the Dome Today -- that's the house organ of the Kansas National Education Association (or KNEA, the teachers union) -- contains a story with the headline "Anti-Government Group launches another attack on public education." A more accurate headline might read "School spending advocacy group refuses to acknowledge budget solution that Kansas Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis says could be used." But that's a tad wordy. The headline is over a story reporting on Kansas Policy Institute president Dave Trabert's testimony to the Kansas House Appropriations Committee. In this testimony, according to the writer for the teachers…
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Lawsuits and tax increases not necessary to fund Kansas schools

By Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute President A recent commentary by Kansas State Board of Education member David Dennis said educators "...just ask that they (legislators) make their decisions based on accurate information, with the future of our students in mind. "We completely agree, and just ask that educators do the same. Unfortunately, some have been making their case for tax increases and lawsuits with a healthy dose of inaccurate and/or misleading information. For example, Mr. Dennis said another Board member "...alleges..." that schools started the current year with $700 million in carryover cash reserves (in addition to money for…
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What’s missing from the Dennis editorial on Kansas school funds

Today's Wichita Eagle carries an editorial by Kansas School Board member David Dennis taking issue with claims that Kansas schools have money that can be spent. At issue is the claim made by the Kansas Policy Institute and Kansas School Board member Walt Chappell that Kansas schools have hundreds of millions in funds that could be put to use to meet the current shortfall. See Districts Have Funds To Meet Projected $100 Million Shortfall for an explanation. The editorial by Dennis explains some of the major funds and their purpose, and gives their balances on July 1. But that's not…
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Kansas school spending advocates: no alternative views welcome

On Monday and Tuesday, the Kansas House Appropriations Committee held hearings, and big topics were Kansas school funding and the Kansas budget. The reaction by school spending advocates to two speakers is illustrative of the highly divisive nature of public school operation and funding in Kansas. We need to label them school spending advocates -- and government schools at that -- because it is increasingly apparent that increasing school spending (or avoiding necessary reductions in spending) at the expense of all reason is their goal. Suggestions that schools should operate more efficiently or learn to live with a little less…
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Extra money in Kansas school funds could help with budget

Continuing a debate on Kansas school funding on the KPTS television public affairs program Kansas Week, Kansas Policy Institute (formerly the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy) President Dave Trabert appeared tonight to present KPI's findings about school funding. While school spending advocates have criticized these findings, there's really good news for Kansas in the numbers. Trabert said that despite the large amount of discussion about school funding in recent years, there is still much misunderstanding about the topic. He said that KPI put out a report that showed that Kansas schools finished the last fiscal year with $1.5 billion…
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Kansas open records examined

Here's another outstanding investigative report by Paul Soutar of the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy. I have experienced some of the same obstacles that Soutar has encountered. Last year Wichita school district board member Lynn Rogers told me that record requests are a burden. Interim superintendent Martin Libhart's attitude was similarly hostile towards legitimate citizen requests for records. Indications are that new board president Barb Fuller and new superintendent John Allison have a better attitude towards records requests, and I hope that time proves this to be the case. The spirit is willing but the law is weak Paul…
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