Providing the opportunity for a high quality education to all Kansas children is among the primary, task of the legislature. Unfortunately, the current funding formula is a rigged game where Johnson County pays the bill but receives less than a fair share of education dollars. I have spearheaded efforts to provide enhanced local funding options for Johnson County Schools. I strongly support a new funding formula which will allow the people to support their local schools without limitation based upon a local vote of the people. As the father of two children in public school, and the husband of a public school teacher, I will continue to fight for our schools.
For a more detailed summary of my efforts in this regard and how they relate to the overall fiscal condition of the state please look here.
To see an overview of historical data on local state and federal expenditures on education in Kansas look here.
Education in Kansas must be kid focused, not system focused. I am a product of Johnson County public schools, and as noted above both of my children attend public school in Olathe and my wife teaches in the district. I am extremely grateful to the educators in this community for the fine job they do. I am convinced that local control coupled with accountability is vital. To maintain excellence going forward we must be innovative and efficient in our expenditure of taxpayer dollars. K - 12 education makes up over 1/2 of the State General Fund budget, but we are not doing enough to make sure these dollars get to the classroom. Studies have shown that Kansas schools have among the highest administrative overhead in the nation. I favor reducing the number of school districts in the state, allowing local districts the ability (with voter approval) to raise more revenue at the local level, targeting state dollars to the core requirements necessary to provide a suitable education for all students, and providing greater flexibility for parents to choose the best educational options for their children.
During my time in the legislature I have worked to pass school finance plans that would: 1) increase local control; 2) provide a fair percentage of state dollars to Johnson County schools; 3) be affordable in the overall context of the state budget; 4) include reasonable accountability measures. During my years in the legislature I have voted in favor of proposals to add hundreds of millions of dollars in K-12 spending increases, including my vote for an FY 2013 budget that added $50 million in new school spending, That said, I do not support the current school finance structure and agree with the Governor that a simplified formula that removes limitations on voter approved local funding initiatives is needed..
I have always done my best to work with other Johnson County legislators to support funding formula reform. A typical example of my work in this area can be see by looking at just obe bill in 2008, Bill 531. This bill, while adding some state dollars to the bases state aid amount, would have perpetuated and in some ways worsened the current inequitable distribution of K-12 funding in Kansas. Prior to the final vote on SB 531, I offered two floor amendments that would have reformed the current school finance formula to deal more equitably with suburban school districts. In particular I offered a proposal to reallocate proposed increases in K- 12 funding away from base aid (which disproportionately benefits rural and high density urban districts) and toward high enrollment weighting. I further offered an amendment that would have linked enhanced high enrollment weighting to future increases in base state aid. Under current law rural districts receive up to 100% weighting above base state aid, thus creating a windfall when that aid is increased. On the other hand large suburban districts receive no more than 3% weighting under similar circumstances. After these amendments failed I joined many of my Johnson County Colleagues in the following explanation of vote:
"MR. SPEAKER: We vote no on SB 531. This bill does not address the inequities in funding that our schools suffer in Johnson County. A school funding formula that pays some school districts much more than 100% of actual costs while denying adequate funding to others should be amended. We have for so long argued and voted for more money for all Kansas schools although Johnson County continues to be number 269 out of 298 in per pupil funding. We can no long support a flawed funding formula.-- Kay Wolf, Sheryl Spalding, Terrie Huntington, Ron Worley, Arlen Siegfreid, Anthony Brown, Kevin Yoder, Jill Quigley, Mike Kiegerl, Lance Kinzer, Pat Colloton, Jeff Colyer, Rob Olson, Thomas Owens, Ben Hodge, Ronnie Metsker, Judy Morrison, Ray Merrick."
For more information about my efforts to reform school finance look here:
*Rep. Kinzer Introduces Bill Broadening Local School Districts Ability To Seek Funding For Early Childhood Learning Centers
*Appropriations Committee Holds Hearings on Rep. Kinzer's Bill Promoting Local Control of Education
*Kinzer Blasts School Funding Plan as Unfair to Johnson County
I have also repeatedly proposed legislation to expand educational opportunities for special needs students. To view my further thoughts on this on this issue look here.