Democrats seek to boost Kansas school funding

01/10/2012 12:51 PM

01/10/2012 1:21 PM

TOPEKA — With a gym full of elementary schoolchildren looking on, legislative Democrats proposed a plan to add at least $90 million in school funding in the next two years.

The money would come from the current state surplus of $351 million, said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

And three years hence, half of all state excess revenue would go to schools until per-pupil revenue reaches the court-approved level of $4,492 under the Democrats’ proposal.

The othe 50 percent would go to reduce local property taxes. Hensley said that would return about $7.4 million to Sedgwick County property taxpayers.

The Democrats’ plans for education come the day before Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to address the topic in his State of the State address.

Details have not been disclosed, but Brownback is expected to propose using the money to reduce state income taxes.

Much of the discussion about issues such as base state aid went well over the heads of the kindergarten-through-fifth grade children of Lowman Hill Elementary School, who were trooped down to their gym for the combination news conference/social studies assignment.

But a lot of them did pick up the general concept that more money for schools would mean more for them.

Tyler Smith, a 9-year-old fourth grader, said he learned “we should do some fundraisers to support the school so we can get more school equipment and supplies so (students) can get a good education.”

“I learned that we should have more field trips,” added his classmate, 9-year-old third grader Logan Godt. Also, “we need like, glue sticks and pencils and stuff like that. And we need more books.”

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