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Kansas Lawmakers Seek New Education Funding Bill
By Felicia Lawrence
COLUMBUS, KS.--- Just a few weeks after the Kansas Supreme Court rules that public school funding levels are unconstitutional, a new bill is being discussed by the state House of Representatives. The proposed bill is intended to increase funding for public schools throughout the Sunflower State. However, Kansas Representative Julie Menghini and Superintendent of USD 247 Dr. Glenn Fortmayer says the bill does not really achieve that goal.
"Our district would lose about $51,000 and then we'd also lose a local options budget money associated with that, for a total of about $66,000. And every district around us would be in the same boat. They'd all be losing money around us," said Dr. Glenn Fortmayer, USD 247 Superintendent.
Dr. Fortmayer says the money they would lose directly affects the district's transportation fund, because there will be fewer dollars in the district's general fund.
"The way the formula's currently structured, we would not see any new dollars. Our taxpayers would get some break, but there would be no new money to help with the bills and rising costs that we face," said Dr. Fortmayer.
He says Kansas House Bill 2774 does not increase funding, but instead, it only moves money by amending education funding formulas so it appears that funding is being increased.
"You can actually take money from one type of revenue source for us, move it into the general fund to make it look like we're getting more money on this hand, but you're taking it away on this hand. And so you could end up breaking even or you could actually end up losing money," said Dr. Fortmayer.
Kansas Representative Julie Menghini agreed with Dr. Fortmayer in the sense that House Bill 2774 is only moving money around, not increasing the amount.
"There are members of the majority party, in the governor's administration who think they can play shell games and move money from one area to another and fool people into thinking that they've added more money to fund schools, when they haven't," said Julie Menghini, Kansas Representative.
Dr. Fortmayer says he's hoping that the governor's office will come up with a more comprehensive plan that will increase funding for school districts. Representative Menghini is not supporting this new bill and is advocating that more funding be spent to support education in the state.