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 discretion on the use of state and local aid; even Capital Outlay aid may be spent on some operating functions. KPERS retirement aid is only used for that purpose but the allocation of those amounts to Instruction and other categories is determined by school board staffing decisions. The 2005 Legislature placed a recommendation in state statute (K.S.A. 72-64c01(a), signed by Governor Kathleen Sebelius) that suggests 65% of all funding be spent on instruction or in the classroom, but local school boards alone make those decisions.
School funding increased nearly $2 billion between 2005 and 2016, but the allocation to Instruction actually declined from 53.6 percent to 52.5 percent (excluding any capital expenditures allocated to Instruction. School boards generally reduced allocations to current operating costs and increased the allocation to Capital Outlay and Debt Service. The chart below reflects the statewide averages for 2005 and 2016 but the intervening years and complete reports for each district can be found here.
District-level calculations of the percentage allocated to Instruction exclude Capital to avoid spikes and declines associated with periodic expenditures, but the percentage allocated to Instruction declined even if Capital Outlay on Instruction is included as shown in the table below.
The Legislature’s policy goal of allocating 65 percent of total spending to Instruction was to encourage local school boards to devote the vast majority of court-ordered funding increase under Montoy to Instruction, but that obviously didn’t happen. For perspective, $6.4 billion more would have been spent on Instruction over the last ten years had that policy goal been met.