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Education leaders, some lawmakers differ on new funding procedure

Education leaders across the area and the state are worried about a new accounting procedure which they say could lead to them not receiving the state aid to which they are entitled.

 

More than $500 million in property taxes will now be rerouted to the state treasury before that money is disbursed. Superintendents like Emporia's Theresa Davidson believe this step could lead to school money being withheld if budget woes worsen.

Republican Ty Masterson of Andover, the bill's author, says this is a move meant for transparency instead. Emporia Rep. and Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast agrees.

Emporia Sen. Jeff Longbine says the move is borne out of a Kansas Supreme Court ruling.

Longbine says the bill's language uses the word "shall" instead of "may," meaning payments to districts are mandatory, but there's no guarantee the language will stay the same later.

Kansas contributes 20 mils to school districts, with many districts also qualifying for other state aid. The state has been late with its monthly payments in the past, especially over the past five years.

As it stands now, county treasurers collect the 20 mils and then send that money straight to schools. With the change, the Kansas State Department of Education will report the money as state aid instead of local funding.

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