Kansas lawmakers look for better ways to fund public schools

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KANSAS, Kan. -- Kansas lawmakers announced they are scrapping the current school funding formula and plan to find a different way to fund public schools.

The goal of Kansas lawmakers is to get more money into the classroom and it appears local districts will see at least a small increase in funding over the next two years while lawmakers rewrite the school funding formula.

The governor will not be cutting the $28 million dollars from school funding he threatened to take away last month. The state will now finance schools districts with block grants.

"So the problem is not the formula,"  said David Smith,Chief of Staff at Kansas City, Kan. Public Schools. "The problem, the real challenge we face, is funding the formula. And it feels as if the block grants are a way to avoid that question and that's something that concerns districts throughout the state. This is really important, this is the education of more than 450,000 students across the state."

Lawmakers plan to increase funding by $333 million dollars over the next two years, but according to legislative researchers, more than half of the $333 million increase would go to pay for teacher pensions for schools with big enrollment increases, leaving only $149 million over two years for educational purposes.

School districts will have to budget wisely to stretch their dollars while lawmakers come up with a new plan.

Many educators are upset about this budget freeze, but many Republican lawmakers said the current funding formula is too confusing and diverts too much money toward building upgrades and equipment purchases.

"We have found that the formula is broken, that is not a surprise to any of us," Rep. Ron Ryckman,Jr. "We must retire the failed formula that has restricted the use of school funding dollars leaving hundreds of millions of dollars out of the classroom."