June 3, 2005
Although more lengthy, if you’re looking for something to get you stirred up, take a gander at the Supreme Court’s decision handed down minutes ago. It is easy to read, but parts of it will certainly get you ginned up! http://www.kscourts.org/kscases/supct/2005/20050603/92032.htm
This Sunday, June 5th at 9:30 am, I will be on 980 AM KMBZ with Bob Bemish discussing the decision, ramifications for the state and for Shawnee Mission, and predictions on what happens next.
Here’s the scoop:
First the terrible news. The Court struck ALL three LOB provisions. Meaning, Johnson County gets to send even more money away, and keeps less. We had hoped the Court would see the need to maintain at least a reasonable level of local taxing authority, but apparently I was wrong. At the time I am writing this, I’m not very happy – so it’s best for me to abide by the adage: “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” However, these are some interesting facts I heard Senator Vratil mention at a recent panel discussion, that I wish the Court would have considered:
· Cost of Living: This provision allows districts with high housing costs to access local taxes to increase teacher salaries to make housing more affordable (and to be competitive). 15 of the 17 districts that qualified for this provision are in the bottom 25% of spending per pupil statewide. Meaning, we do more with less - MORE efficient.
· SHAWNEE MISSION IS IN THE BOTTOM 9% of spending statewide... 91% of Kansas school districts spend MORE per pupil than does Shawnee Mission.
· EVERY school district in Johnson County is in the bottom 15% of expenditures for operating expenses STATEWIDE!
Here’s the OK news. Schools will receive even more money than was in HB 2247 ($142 million). I say OK because Shawnee Mission gets the short end of the stick because of weightings in other parts of the state, but we do get some $. I’m sure I will have those numbers by next week – I can just imagine the buzz at the district offices trying to get numbers run and information out right now!
For those of you around me the past six months, I have consistently talked about my concern that people were taking the Court too lightly when it mentioned the Augenblick and Myers study dozens of times in opinions. Well, I do enjoy being right!
· The Court reminded us that the Augenblick and Myers (A&M) Study prescribed a LOT of money be put into the system. Adjusted for inflation, that comes out to be $853 million. The Court wants one-third of that amount put into schools by July 1st. This is an increase of $285 million (that amount will the $142 million provided in HB 2247)
· HB 2247 required a Post Audit study be done of the true costs of education. The Court said if the report is not completed in time for the legislature to act during the 2006 legislative session, or is found judicially invalid, the court will mandate “at a minimum” the remaining portion of the A&M funds be implemented ($568 million).
· Court retains jurisdiction to make sure we’re paying attention
Next steps? Looks like we are headed back to Topeka for a Special Session. And you thought we were done! Fortunately, our legislative session was only 83 days this year, instead of the 90 that is budgeted. So, while we saved the State $250,000 by adjourning early, we obviously did not get our job done.
For now, have a GREAT weekend and I will update more as we know more!