Unconstitutional by any other name is still Unconstitutional

Consortium on Education Policy & Finance

A Review of the Kansas “Block Grant” School Finance Legislation


Bruce D. Baker, Rutgers University

In this report, I present a brief review of Kansas House Substitute for Senate Bill 7, which has been labeled the “Block Grant” funding formula, adopted as a replacement to the School District Finance Act, and to be enacted through the 2016-17 fiscal year. Major features of the plan include:

  1. Calling it a “block grant;”
  2. Freezing in place prior year general fund aggregate (not per pupil) state aid through the next two fiscal years;
    1. To include a .4% across the board cut for FY2015-16 and FY2016-17 to generate “extraordinary” needs aid pool;
  3. Imposing cuts to prior year supplemental fund state aid for the next fiscal year;
  4. Imposing cuts to prior year capital outlay state aid for the next fiscal year.

Put simply, a freeze by any other name is still a freeze and a…

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Published by schoolfinance101

Bruce Baker is an Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. From 1997 to 2008 he was a professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. He is lead author with Preston Green (Penn State University) and Craig Richards (Teachers College, Columbia University) of Financing Education Systems, a graduate level textbook on school finance policy published by Merrill/Prentice-Hall. Professor Baker has written a multitude of peer reviewed research articles on state school finance policy, teacher labor markets, school leadership labor markets and higher education finance and policy. His recent work has focused on measuring cost variations associated with schooling contexts and student population characteristics, including ways to better design state school finance policies and local district allocation formulas (including Weighted Student Funding) for better meeting the needs of students. Baker, along with Preston Green of Penn State University are co-authors of the chapter on Conceptions of Equity in the recently released Handbook of Research Education Finance and Policy, and co-authors of the chapter on the Politics of Education Finance in the Handbook of Education Politics and Policy and co-authors of the chapter on School Finance in the Handbook of Education Policy of the American Educational Research Association. Professor Baker has also consulted for state legislatures, boards of education and other organizations on education policy and school finance issues and has testified in state school finance litigation in Kansas, Missouri and Arizona. He is a member of the Think Tank Review Panel, a group of academic researchers who conduct technical reviews of publicly released think tank reports on education policy issues.

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