12 Million Dollar Mistake by the Kansas State Department of Education

A controversial bill for school funding will be providing $12 million less than first thought.

The Kansas State Department of Education is apologizing over confusion about their estimates for just how much money schools will get.

When Governor Sam Brownback signed the bill into law last week, he said to media that schools would get $73 million from the decision. This week, we now know that schools are actually getting $61 million in funding. The KSDE says on April 6th, they had the $61 million figure correct on a computer printout after taking out parts of the funding proposal. But when they were making the late changes for the senate Substitute, those exclusions to the bill were not reflected in the individual school district estimates, causing the total amount to be more.
Critics of the bill say lawmakers got distracted the night the bill passed.

“Maybe if we had stayed focused on funding, this bill would not have been signed into law,” said State Senator Laura Kelly, (D) Topeka. “So, we need to do something in wrap up to make sure we address that issue,” she added.

“There was no real deliberation or time table to craft a plan that actually made sense, and that people could vote on with confidence,” said Mark Desetti, KNEA Director of Legislative and Political Advocacy.

Speaker of the House, Ray Merrick, released this statement: “The Legislature works off the best and most current information given. It’s unfortunate the Department of Education made the mistake, but classrooms will still see an additional $61 million more than before passage of the bill, and that will be a benefit to the students. Plus there will be another $84 million in proposed property tax relief for Kansans.”

Lawyers for school districts say they believe the law still complies with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

We went to Governor Brownback’s office to get a comment today, but the message we left was not returned. But, an aide for Governor Brownback said yesterday that they did not know about the revised estimates when he signed the bill.

The KSDE released this statement,”Senate Substitute for House Bill 2506 excluded weightings for virtual , non-proficient at-risk and reduced at-risk weightings for part-time students and students over the age of 19. The first printout dated April 6 accounted for the money it would take to exclude those three weightings for computing the LOB on a statewide basis.  The subsequent printout dated April 17 broke down these weighting exclusions by individual districts. In each printout, the total state costs did not change.”

This is the release the KSDE sent out Monday after realizing the error:

TOPEKA –The Kansas State Department of Education has been made aware of some confusion concerning the computer printouts that were prepared to reflect the Kansas Legislature’s estimates on school finance.

On April 6, a computer printout (SF14-145) was made available to reflect the latest school finance proposal.  Within this printout, state totals reflected the exclusion of virtual weighting from the calculation of the local option budget, as well as the exclusion of non-proficient at-risk weighting and reduced at-risk weighting for part-time students and students over 19 years of age (except students with IEPs).

At the time of legislative adjournment, the calculations took into account these exclusions on a state total basis only and were not reflected in the individual school district estimates.  The timing of the late changes to Senate Substitute for House Bill 2506 did not allow enough time to re-compute individual school district estimates excluding these weightings.

Following legislative adjournment, the provisions of the SSHB 2506 were recomputed to reflect the exclusion of virtual weighting, non-proficient at-risk and part-time at-risk students from the calculation of the local option budget by school district.

KSDE regrets any reporting confusion this may have created.

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