Ruling means more waiting for districts
By DIANE GASPER-O’BRIEN
Superintendents in the two smaller school districts in Ellis County feel not much, if anything, changed following a Friday morning ruling that came down on school finance from the Kansas Supreme Court.
“We didn’t get any benefits from this except sit and wait some more,” said Bob Young, superintendent of Ellis USD 388.
In a long-awaited ruling, the court ordered legislators to spend more money on its public schools. It ordered an increase in capital improvements and supplemental aid by July 1 and sent the case back to district court for more review for base adequate funding.
“As far as the lion’s share of funding, there’s no answer yet,” Young said. “Adequacy was the big element financially, and that’s still up in the air.”
Linda Kenne, superintendent of Victoria USD 432, agreed.
“No school district in the state is going to get any money based on today’s ruling,” she said. “They talk about a win-win situation. This is a lose-lose.
“There’s nothing new here. It’ll be interesting to see how the legislators react. It’s all in their hands now.”
Young said he was encouraged a July 1 deadline was set for equitable issue and supplemental general equalization funding.
He said that amount for USD 388 — which has 400 students in kindergarten through grade 12, but kindergartners are counted as only halftime for funding purposes — would be approximately $25,000.
Young said while “anything’s helpful,” it actually won’t mean new money for the Ellis school district.
“All that means is that I will reduce our local mill level by a little less than 1 mill,” he said. “It’s just a matter of where I get the money from. We’ll get $25,000 from the state instead of from local property taxes.
“But, that will have a positive impact.”
Kenne, whose district has a head count between 260 and 280 students in K-12, said she “believes in the system” and “if the judges say the legislators need to give us more money, then I think they should.”
Now, school districts might have to wait nearly three months to find out how much that amount will be.
It’s a process Young said he has become all too accustomed to.
“From Jan. 1 to the middle of May, every superintendent in the state, this is our life,” he said. “Follow our legislation and hold your breath.”