Kansas Moves Into Next Phase of School Spending Escalation
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2006 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Lawmakers in Kansas approved an 8.3 percent budget increase for K-12 education during the conclusion of this year’s legislative session, which adjourned May 2.
The K-12 budget for fiscal 2008 totals $3.14 billion, up from $2.9 billion last year. The increase represents the second phase in a three-year, $466 million plan drawn up last summer that promises to increase state funding for education.
Under the plan, per-pupil spending will increase $58, to $4,374, in the 2007-08 school year. The plan also raises pay for special education teachers by, on average, $1,500 per teacher. Before the increase, the average salary for special education teachers was roughly $38,000.
“Quality education is critical to success in the workforce and in life, which is why it’s so important we continue to expand opportunities for learning. I was very happy with the progress we’ve made [this year] in ensuring every child has access to a great education,” Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Sixty-four percent of the total budget in Kansas is devoted to education.
The new budget increased the state cap on the percentage of local tax money that can be put toward school districts. Schools can now fund up to 32 percent of their budgets in 2007-08 with local taxes, an increase of 2 percentage points.
Lawmakers this session added a provision that allows schools to continue to receive extra funding for low-income students, even if the schools are unable to complete testing for unpredictable reasons, such as a natural disaster or a school fire. Previously, schools could not receive extra money for such students unless state testing was completed.
Vol. 26, Issue 37, Page 20