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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • 'Weighting' proposal could lighten school's funding

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  • A move to pass a change to the state constitution to give the legislature total control of school funding is slowly making its way through the state capitol. The House still has to pass the measure and then it would have to be passed by voters in 2014.Gov. Sam Brownback made this proposal after a court ruling said the state is not funding schools adequately.This move, and others like it, have local school officials concerned.Another move at the state capitol is to change the formula for funding schools, which is called "weighting."Currently schools get more money for economically disadvantaged children. The schools get more money if they have more students who qualify for free or reduced cost lunches.The change proposed by the governor would give money to schools based on performance. Schools would get more if it is shown more is needed to help children who are  falling behind.Newton school superintendent Deb Hamm does not like the proposal and said it could cost Newton schools between $1.1 and $1.3 million per year. That would be a sizeable chunk out of a $15 million budget."There are aspects of bills that are currently being considered that are a concern," she said.?The weighting proposal sounds good to some degree, she said, but it seems like they are waiting for students to fail before trying to help the student.?State Sen. Carolyn McGinn agrees with that assessment.?"Programs should help students succeed. I don't know why they want them to fail first," McGinn said.She added that Newton and Wichita have a higher percentage of students who qualify for free lunch, whereas Johnson County has a lower number.This move would not hurt Johnson County as much, she said.Hamm believes the current model allows schools to work with students and prevent them from getting too far behind.?"The model now allows us to provide the support for students to be successful," she said.?A big part of the governor's education plans involve making sure money actually gets to the classroom.?Hamm said she thinks the definition is flawed because things like counselors, librarians and media specialists are not considered part of the equation.?She said having a heated building helps provide a good learning environment, for example, but that is not considered money that gets to the classroom.?"We need to look at outcomes, not just where percentages of money go," she said.?  

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