Kansas School Superintendents’ Association comes out in opposition to Hinson school funding ideas

Superintendent Jim Hinson.
Superintendent Jim Hinson.

The Kansas School Superintendents’ Association on Monday formally rejected the K-12 funding framework floated by Shawnee Mission School District head Jim Hinson earlier this month.

In a statement that largely applauded the work of the House K-12 Budget Committee in the developing a new formula, group singled out Hinson’s plan as unlikely to meet key court mandates. Here’s the copy that relates to Hinson:

Recently, Dr. Jim Hinson, Superintendent of Shawnee Mission School District, shared an alternative school finance plan. KSSA opposes this plan. Based on the information shared at the time, the plan does not align to the funding framework that the KSSA board of directors approved last fall. Furthermore, the plan, as shared, does not take into account the diverse needs of Kansas school districts and relies more heavily on local tax payers to provide funds for their local schools. The range of property wealth per student varies greatly across our state. This plan could create an unfair tax burden for property poor districts and an unfair fiscal advantage for property wealthy districts, a test that would not likely pass the Kansas Supreme Court equity and adequacy test.

At the time, Johnson County legislators largely opposed the 1992 school funding formula that reduced districts’ ability to fund school operations — including teacher personnel costs — with proceeds from local property taxes. Hinson and attorney Fred Logan argued last week that the framework Hinson was proposing would restore some of that local authority to individual districts.

But that approach has failed to gain the support of legislators who would be key allies in advancing the funding formula components favored by Hinson. Two House members whose districts fall within the boundaries of the Shawnee Mission School District sit on the K-12 Budget Committee:Republican Melissa Rooker of Fairway and Democrat Nancy Lusk of Overland Park.

Hinson briefed Rooker and a handful of other area Republicans on his plan before discussing it publicly last week. Rooker  said she believed nearly every part of Hinson’s plan would face major constitutional hurdles.

Lusk, on the other hand, was never briefed on the proposal.

“I never knew anything about this proposal,” Lusk told the Shawnee Mission Post last week. “I’m a little confused with the district’s approach. I really want to do what’s best for the district, but it has to pass constitutional muster, and it’s got to consider the entire state…It’s not helpful to alienate people.”

Asked during his press availability on last Thursday whether it would be important to get buy in from legislators who represented the Shawnee Mission area for his concept to gain traction, Hinson said it would.

“In looking at our delegation, they have a significant challenge on their hands,” he said. “I don’t want to get political, but you understand that they have a state budget deficit to fill…and they have to figure out the future. Have to pass a new formula. And they have to figure out how to fund a new formula. And I think that causes great tension on the delegation on where they’re going to stand on revenue enhancements and in relation to tax increases as well. The right way to do it is to pass a formula that really benefits the needs of kids. And then you figure out how to fund it,” he said.

The KSSA release is copied below: