By Jon H. Flint
LARNED — There has been talk about continuing school funding using the current finance formula and it is clear, in no uncertain terms, there is no political will to do that and absolutely no chance of it happening under the current political atmosphere. It is believed that the House would not pay any attention to a court mandate, anyway.
Key points of Governor Sam Brownback’s School Finance Plan.
• Payments to districts would be based on full time enrollment (FTE) — providing the BSAPP at the (current) statutory funding level of $4,492 mandated by the courts and multiplying the BSAPP by the FTE (including declining enrollment factor and counting kindergartners at 1.0).
• Eliminating all weighting categories (enrollment, bilingual, voc-ed, at-risk, non-proficient,, new facilities, transportation).
• Establishing a Base Line Amount that would determine how much funding each district gets and from what source.
• Creating a 106 percent cap for equalization fund payments.
• Offsetting local property taxes through the Property Equalization Fund.
• Equalizing district budgets through Supplemental Equalization.
• Eliminating the cap on the Local Option Budget (LOB).
• Creating a two-year budget cycle.
• No changes to how special education is funded at this time.
The Governor’s plan would pay school districts in several ways.
First, school districts would receive $4,492 (BSAPP) for each student. Second, each school district would levy 20 mills of property tax and send it to the state. Those 20 mills are “equalized,” which means the money is redistributed to school districts based on their property wealth. In other words, the poorer you are, the more money you get. School districts would also continue their current local property tax (LOB).
Poorer districts would get more money, but that amount is capped at 106 percent of the amount that would have been received under the current system. Wealthier districts would receive a Supplemental Equalization payment to make sure they are receiving the same amount of money they did under the current system.
The good news for Fort Larned USD 495 is that, using this year’s budget figures, we would initially receive $274,983 more.
The bad news is that daily operating costs such as salaries, fuel, insurance and maintenance will probably outpace this amount in a few years.
Worse still, we would have to rely on our ability to raise additional funds by increasing LOB (local property taxes) because, unlike our current LOB, this tax would not be equalized based on property wealth.