Education Funding Letter to the Editor

Kansas Schools Are Not ‘Starving': Article’s Depiction Is Disputed

March 08, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The article “Kansas Panel Pours Fuel on Debate Over K-12 Aid” (Jan. 27, 2016) is both misleading and factually incorrect regarding education funding in Kansas. It is a prime example of opinion driving what is supposed to be hard news.

The article opens with a complete misrepresentation of the Kansas Supreme Court ruling on education spending in 2014. The implication is that the court made a conclusive decision about educational funding at that time. In fact, the justices did no such thing in 2014.

The article presents an erroneous, bleak picture of education funding, using the phrase “so little money” and going so far as to call school districts “starving.” Here are the facts: Kansas has increased per-pupil spending each year since coming out of the Great Recession, now spending over $13,000 per pupil, which is about average when the numbers are compared with those of nearby states.

Starving? Kansas districts reported a combined $860 million carry-over balance into the current school year. That is nearly double the amount of a decade ago and represents 17 percent of operating expenses. The decision not to spend those dollars is one made strictly by the local districts.

The article also misrepresents the temporary block-grant funding mechanism. Although the funding was less than districts had hoped would be allocated, the funding mechanism does not cut existing budgets and will actually increase statewide spending by 5.6 percent over its three-year cycle.

As a 17-year veteran teacher in Kansas, I can attest that the amount of funding provided to schools is not the problem. The problem is that the education establishment in Kansas is like an addict when it comes to money. Just last summer, the Kansas district in which I reside asked the voters for a $400,000 budget override, citing the block-grant increase as a “cut.” And they did so while sitting on over $8 million in reserve. Thankfully, the voters didn’t fall for it, and the measure was soundly defeated.

That is a much more accurate depiction of the state of school finance in Kansas.

David Dorsey

Senior Education Analyst

Kansas Policy Institute

Wichita, Kan.

Editor’s note: Last month, the Kansas Supreme Court made a determination that the state’s funding was inequitable.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 09, 2016 edition of Education Week as Kansas Schools Are Not ‘Starving': Article’s Depiction Is Disputed


Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.
School & District Management Webinar Fostering Student Well-Being with Programs That Work
Protecting student well-being has never been more important. Join this webinar to learn how to ensure your programs yield the best outcomes.
Reading & Literacy Webinar 'Science of Reading': What Are the Components?
Learn how to adopt a “science of reading” approach to early literacy to effectively build students’ vocabulary and content knowledge.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding Districts Steer Federal Teacher-Quality Funding Into Recruitment, Retention
Efforts to recruit teachers and create "grow your own" programs are in; class-size reduction and teacher evaluation are out.
5 min read
Blurred view of the back of students in a classroom with their hands raised answering to a female teacher
Education Funding In Their Own Words This Superintendent's Tiny, Rural District Got No COVID Aid. Here's Why That Hurts
The aid formula left Long Lake, N.Y., out of the mix. The superintendent worries that could happen for other kinds of aid in the future.
3 min read
Long Lake Superintendent Noelle Short in front of Long Lake Central School in Long Lake, N.Y., on Sept. 1, 2022.
Noelle Short is the superintendent of a single-school district in upstate New York with fewer than 100 students.
Heather Ainsworth for Education Week
Education Funding Grants Aim to Support Alaska Native Students' Education, Well-Being
The U.S. Department of Education is providing more than $35 million for projects in its latest round of funding.
2 min read
The East Anchorage High and Scammon Bay students gather at a home in the Native Village to learn how to comb fur from a musk ox hide using special combs and common forks. The fur can later be spun into yarn.
Students from East Anchorage High School and Scammon Bay, Alaska, gather to learn how to comb fur from a musk ox hide through a federally funded cultural and educational program for Alaska Native students.
Erin Irwin/Education Week
Education Funding District Leaders Plea to Feds: We Need More Time to Spend COVID Aid
Without more flexibility on the 2024 spending deadline, critical programs will be axed, they warn.
5 min read
Image of money and a timer.