School finance bill cuts "facilities weighting" funds

While the Kansas Legislature’s new school finance bill does not eliminate state matching funds for new school construction in the state, it does eliminate what’s called "school facilities weighting" funds for new school construction plans approved after July 1, 2014.

The "school facilities weighting" funds are extra funds (in addition to the state matching funds) that have long been awarded by the state government to school districts that have approved construction of new schools.

The "extra funds" (25 percent of the base state aid for each full time student in the district for two years) have been awarded to help districts furnish and supply the new schools that they are building.

Those “extra funds’’ are eliminated by the state effective July 1, 2014.

In the case of the Holton school district, the "extra funds" will amount to nearly $1 million a year for two years - if Holton voters approve the school bond issue next month.

For smaller communities in the state such as Holton’s, $2 million is a lot of extra funds that the state awards - in addition to the 55 percent match on the total cost of a new school project.

By eliminating the "school facilities weighting" funds after July 1, 2014, the Legislature is sending a very strong message to school districts across the state that it is serious about reducing state aid to schools that are related to new school building construction plans.

Holton USD 336 officials have been working for several years now on a good, solid plan to improve the district’s elementary schools. The upcoming school bond issue in the district reflects that careful planning and has progressed to this point because the district has real needs, not just because the curtain is slowly, but certainly, coming down on the state matching aid program.

—David Powls