Guest post: Hillsboro superintendent blogs on school finance

By Dr. Steve Noble
March 12, 2015

Editor's Note:

The following is a blog post from Hillsboro USD 410 Superintendent Dr. Steve Noble's Blog, which is available at 2experiencelearning.blogspot.com/

Dr. Noble does a better job of explaining what school finance looks like than I can do briefly. The Kansas House is debating the so called Block Grant Bill today.

When we were kids, I remember playing football outside with my two brothers and neighborhood friends. The rules were simple: the team with the ball had four downs to go the length of the backyard for a touchdown; tackles were made with a two hand touch or we forced the ball carrier out of bounds; and the ball was turned over to the other team after a touchdown, a turnover, or after four consecutive plays without scoring. These were simple rules for a simple game except it seemed the rules were ever changing. The distance to the goal line was shorter when we needed a touchdown, The sideline was magically moved in when we yelled, "Out of Bounds!" to our opponent (even though we secretly knew he was in bounds all the way to the endzone). Two hand touch became tackle when we were trying to take out the opposing team's best player. We tried to change the rules to suit our motive.

The new school finance plan is H Sub for SB 7. It is also referred to as the "Block Grant Bill." Our Governor and legislature are looking at "changing the rules" of school finance to suit their motive and they are wanting to do this in the middle of the game. As our state continues to wrestle with a $650 million budget deficit and since education is half of the state's budget, the motive is to keep the massive income tax cuts in place and cut schools to make ends meet. What's even more troubling is they intend to do this now when our school year has entered "the fourth quarter." Their claim is the current formula is "unpredictable, inflexible, and doesn't put enough money into the classroom." The truth is, there isn't enough money to fund the current formula because of the self imposed budget deficit and this is their attempt to cut and minimize future increases in school funding in Kansas.

School funding rules are a lot like the rules to backyard football or any game for that matter. On occasion, the rules get tweaked. New rules are put in and old rules are taken out. Interpretation of the rules vary. The goal for school funding rules should be to provide suitable and equitable funding for all Kansas' kids. The Block Grant Bill (H Sub for SB 7) is not equitable nor suitable. As kids playing backyard football, we weren't always in it for the "good of the game." We were often in it for ourselves. Demand that our legislature and Governor get in it for the good of education by adhering to a very simple rule: suitably and equitably fund Kansas Public Education.


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