- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Gov. Sam Brownback has said he wants to tie school funding to student performance, an idea that immediately raised questions amid a court fight over how much the state spends on public education.

Brownback, who discussed the concept Friday while speaking to the Agri-Business Council of Wichita, said earlier this year that he wanted to ditch the current school-finance formula and fund the state’s districts with interim block grants for the next two years, The Wichita Eagle (https://bit.ly/1vlxrjG ) reports.

In his speech, Brownback elaborated on his plans.

“Let’s spend that two years writing a finance formula that gets money to the classroom, and I’d like it to have some incentives tied with performance,” he said.

“Are the kids reading at the fourth-grade level when they get to fourth grade? When you leave high school, are you either ready to go to college or go to work? I’d rather you’d be both, ready to do both, but are you? And we want to pay that you will be, and if you’re not, then you should be penalized for it because that’s what you’re supposed to get done,” Brownback said.

He criticized the current school funding formula, because it was designed to provide educational equity across diverse populations by putting more money in schools that have high percentages of at-risk, poor, rural and other harder-to-serve students. Brownback stressed that nothing in the current plan is tied to performance.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, said the current formula meets court muster for fairness, but the problem is the Legislature doesn’t fully fund it. Both a three-judge school finance court and the state Supreme Court have emphasized that the constitution requires the state to provide funds to equalize educational opportunity for students in poorer school districts. Hensley said rewarding high-performing school districts, which also tend to be the richer ones, would appear to do the opposite.

“I presume in Sam Brownback’s view of the world that’s the way it will be, but that will not meet with favor from the courts,” he said.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com


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