Year-out budget decision welcome from past norm
The 2008 Kansas legislative session starts next week and already education issues are making headlines. But unlike past years, the discussion isn't about the 2008-2009 school budget but that of the next year.
Senate leaders said Tuesday they would support locking in school finance funding for the 2009-2010 school year that would increase K through 12 funding by $65 million or a 2.2 percent increase. The three Republican Senate leaders said the increase would keep up with inflation. A spokesman for the Kansas Association of School Boards said the increase was short of what was needed to attract teachers to a profession facing a shortage and to help districts needing to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind.
That will be a hard sell in an election-year session, especially when Congress has yet to reauthorize No Child Left Behind. Adding to the senator's argument was a report also released Tuesday that state revenue collections in December fell $33 million short of expectations and increasing talk of a possible national recession.
But whatever the outcome, the fact that a budget discussion for the 2009-2010 school year is occurring now is a welcome change from the historical norm - until last year - of the Legislature not agreeing to a budget for the coming school until late in the session or when it returned for the annual wrap-up session (and once only after a special session). A commitment to make such an important decision early will do much to bring stability and continuity to school districts.