Education

Perhaps no subject in Kansas is more hotly debated – and less understood – than school funding.  Public opinion surveys routinely show per-pupil funding is about twice as much as Kansans believe it to be, which is understandable given the volume of false information published in many venues.  The data used here is the official information as provided by the Kansas Department of Education.  This section also provides student achievement facts from the U.S. Department of Education (NAEP), the Kansas Department of Education (state assessment) and ACT.

Spending Per-Pupil Exceeds $13,000

Average per-pupil spending was $13,015 last year and 2016 marked the third consecutive year that Kansas set a record for per-pupil spending without counting KPERS retirement funding, at $12,458.  If not for a partial deferral of a KPERS payment last year, total funding per pupil would also have set a new record. School spending continues […]

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2016 State Assessment Results

The 2016 state assessment results were again a sober reminder that student achievement is not as good as many people have been led to believe.  In Math, for example, only 11 percent of low income students in the 10th grade are on track to be college or career ready; just 34 percent of their more […]

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Spending Allocated to Instruction by School Boards

The portion of spending allocated to Instruction, Administration and other cost centers varies by district, as local school boards alone make those decisions.  Some aid, such as Bond & Interest, must be spent on that cost center but a school board’s decision to incur debt is the trigger.  The temporary block grant system affords tremendous […]

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2016 school funding sets record without KPERS

2016 marked the third consecutive year that school funding set a new record without counting KPERS retirement spending, at $12,458 per-pupil. That amount is 40 percent more than if non-KPERS funding adjusted for inflation over the course of the old school funding system.  For perspective, non-KPERS funding would have been $1.65 billion less last year […]

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Federal Employment Mandate?

Does receipt of federal funding for special education, Title 1 or food service come with a stipulation requiring school districts to hire more employees? According to Dale Dennis, Deputy KSDE Commissioner for Finance, school districts receiving those federal funds are not required to hire employees, including any specific number or type of employee, to provide […]

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School Spending is 45% above Inflation

The old school funding system was established in 1992 and at that time, per-pupil funding was $5,302.  The state’s KPERS contribution was not included in total funding until 2005, however, but had it been, funding would have been $5,416 per-pupil according to the Kansas Department of Education.  Increasing that amount by inflation (Bureau of Labor […]

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No One Can Identify Adequate, Efficient Funding

No one knows how much money schools need to achieve required outcomes while also making efficient use of taxpayer money because no such analysis has ever been done in Kansas.  The Augenblick & Myers cost study upon which the Montoy court ruling was based was supposed to include efficiency but they admittedly excluded efficiency from […]

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More Money Doesn’t Cause Outcomes to Improve

There are some researchers who believe there is a correlation between spending more money and improving student outcomes, and there are many others who strongly disagree.  But most of those who believe in correlation agree with their counterparts on two very important points: Just spending more money does not CAUSE outcomes to improve, and Spending […]

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National Rankings on Student Achievement

You may have heard claims that Kansas has high national rankings on student achievement but unfortunately, that’s not true.  Rankings on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and ACT both show Kansas is only about average overall, and that’s in a nation that doesn’t perform well in international competition. The large achievement gaps between low […]

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School Employment Growing Faster than Enrollment

School district full time equivalent enrollment and personnel reports show employment has been growing much faster than enrollment.  Since 1993 (the oldest data available from the Department of Education) enrollment grew 7 percent while total employment jumped 26 percent.  The last eleven years has seen employment increase by 5 percent with total employment up 7 […]

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Carryover Cash Reserves

School districts have operating cash reserves in many different funds, which function like a personal checkbook; the balances only increase if more money is deposited each year than is actually spent.  Every entity needs some degree of reserves but most school districts have dramatically increased their cash reserves over the last ten year.  Operating cash […]

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Debt per-student 10th Highest in Nation

The most recent national school funding comparison from the U.S. Census shows Kansas school districts have the 10th highest debt per-student in the nation, at $10,039.  That’s a 53 percent increase over the last ten years.  Total indebtedness hit $5 billion, which was a 62 percent increase. Further discussion of this issue, including regional comparisons […]

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Classroom Funding

My school district says the Legislature isn’t providing enough money for the classroom.  How much is provided for classroom instruction? There is no official category of ‘classroom funding’ under the block grant system or the old funding formula. The Legislature doesn’t decide how funds are to be allocated funds between classroom, administration, transportation or other cost […]

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School Accounting Change

Is it true that school funding only appears to be setting new records because of accounting changes? No, that’s not true.  Emails from the Department of Education say no accounting changes for KPERS, Special Education, property taxes or anything else have affected total reported funding for more than ten years.

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Legislative Studies on School Funding

Didn’t the Legislature’s own audit say that schools are underfunded? No.  It’s been said that the 2006 Legislative Post Audit report said schools were underfunded but the report very clearly says that is not true.   LPA said the goal of that report was “…to make decisions and assumptions in both cost studies that were reasonable, […]

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