Today we run the responses to the third of our readers’ questions for the candidates running in two local statehouse primaries: incumbent Stephanie Clayton and challenger Jennifer Flood in District 19; and incumbent Barbara Bollier and challenger Neil Melton in District 21.
Here’s today’s questionnaire item:
Shawnee Mission School District has closed buildings, reduced the teaching staff, and increased the guidelines for class sizes in the last few years trying to manage a loss in state revenue. Do you believe that voters in each district should be able to raise unlimited funds locally beyond what the state provides – or returns – to the districts?
Barbara Bollier (District 21 incumbent)
It is important to note that first and foremost, I support fully funding the current school funding formula. If that is done, we would have an increase of approximately $500 per student in base state aid per pupil. By funding our formula we would significantly reduce the need to increase local property taxes to raise money through our local option budget. If the legislature chooses not to fully fund the formula, then I support raising the local option budget but recognize that the requirement to equalize school funding would limit the impact of raising money locally.
Neil Melton (District 21 challenger)
I am in favor of local districts having the ability to raise unlimited additional funds provided voters choose to do that. The state wants to make sure all children throughout the state have access to a quality education and tries to accomplish this through the notion of equalization of funding for school districts. Doing this has created a disparity in how the state is funding education at the local level. Many districts are getting considerably more than SMSD in state funding and I think the pendulum needs to swing back a little bit. The idea that we are going to provide equal educational opportunities and outcomes across the state through equal funding just doesn’t work in reality. I want to help us move away from that and back toward more local control. We also need to examine not only how much money we are spending, but how the money is spent and how much revenue districts receive from all sources. This will give the public a clear picture of how K-12 education is being managed in Kansas.
Jennifer Flood (District 19 challenger)
Did not submit a response.
Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item four:
Should the state expand Medicaid to take advantage of federal dollars and get more Kansans healthcare under the Medicaid system? If not, what strategies should the state employ to get more Kansans healthcare coverage?