School Consolidation Bill

From the Wichita Industry and Business Association:

SB 525—MANDATED SCHOOL CONSOLIDATION

SB 525 would amend the state’s school finance formula regarding the new facilities weighting and the capital improvements aid program. The bill would provide that the facilities weighting would not be assigned to
any new school facilities unless the school district had consolidated with another district after June 30, 2006 or an election to issue bonds to finance the new facility was approved prior to June 30, 2006. The bill prohibits any new school facilities used primarily as a sports facility from receiving this facility weighting.

Also, SB 525 would prohibit distribution of state aid from the school district capital improvements aid program unless the district had consolidated with another district after June 30, 2006, or an election to approve issuance of bonds to make improvements had been approved prior to June 30, 2006. This provision also prohibits state aid through this program to assist with the financing of improvements to any facilities used primarily as a sports facility. [Emphasis added]

Sounds like a heavy-handed approach: if you want state aid for a new building …. No, if you want state aid for capital improvements … You must merge.

Yes, there is an opt-out for voters who wish to kick in their own funds for the improvements or new facilities–but only if they vote by the end of June in 2006.

This would be a worrisome development. Now, it’s not necessarily a good thing that capital project X, Y, or Z take place. But the move towards consolidation is not necessarily a good one, either.

For those who wish to read further, the text of the bill, in PDF, is here. The (PDF) fiscal note for the bill makes its draconian powers clear: After FY 2008, “districts would no longer be eligible for the [new facilities weighting and capital improvements] program without consolidating with another district.”

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