Archive for Thursday, March 16, 2006

Kobza watches school funding developments

March 16, 2006

With two plans to deliver a court-mandated boost to school-funding coursing through the Legislature, Eudora USD 491 Superintendent Marty Kobza has kept a close eye on Topeka.

Both plans could mean more money for the district, but until one plan emerges Kobza remains cautious.

Kobza updated the board of education during its monthly meeting Thursday on the latest developments.

"Whatever they come up with has to go through the court," Kobza said.

Although the funding process might be a long-haul ordeal for the district, one positive aspect has caught Kobza's attention.

"What's exciting is that they're looking at multi-year plans," Kobza said. "And when I say exciting, it's because it gives us an opportunity to budget as well."

Since the results of the legislative post-audit were announced in January, Kobza has told the district a multi-year disbursement of the new money would be preferable to one lump sum.

Both plans are striving to balance funding within the education system as determined by the legislative post-audit study conducted on behalf of the state. According to the audit, the state school district's are under funded by about $400 million, Kobza said.

"Neither one of these plans comes close to addressing that," Kobza said.

So far the plan supported by the House would mean less money for the state and also Eudora.

The House plan would eventually pump in $500 million into the state's school districts over a multi-year period.

The Senate's plan would increase funding by $660 million also over a multi-year period.

"There's a significant difference under the two plans as to what it means to us," Kobza said.

Should the House plan pass through the Kansas Legislature in its current state, the district could be receiving $213,000 more than currently expected.

With the Senates plan's current incarnation, the district could receive up to $280,000 more next year.

With the new funds the district faces a caveat, Kobza said.

A significant portion will go to at-risk or special needs children, Kobza said.

"There are significant increases being proposed by both sides," Kobza said. "It may not to be the level we desire but there is slight increases, so that is exciting,"

Although the two different plans are in front of their respective entities, Kobza said the lawmakers would try to have a plan together by the Legislature's veto session.

"They didn't like being in the special session last year, and all indications are they don't want to go back and do it again," Kobza said. "That's exciting if that happens because that at least gives us some kind of measurement in June as opposed to those late dates."

It's possible the district could be receiving significantly less money if it's deemed to have a low number of at-risk students.

"There is still is a real desire it to inject more money into urban areas with more poverty," Kobza said.

The state defines of at-risk students as those who qualify for free or discounted lunch programs.

The district considers a student at-risk if they aren't performing up to their grade level," Kobza said.

Because of the weighting of high poverty areas, the district could be receiving $160 more per student whereas more at-risk areas could be receiving more than $350, Kobza said.

"We're to big but not big enough," Kobza said. "We don't have enough free and reduced-lunch kids."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.