The Kansas Association of School Boards released a report this week on how investing in K-12 education pays off.
“People with higher education levels earn more,” said Mark Tallman with the Kansas Association of School Boards. “They’re much more likely to be employed, or not be unemployed, and states that have a lot of those people do well in many ways and they spend more on average, they spend more per pupil than states which have lower higher education attainment levels.”
This is an important point as the state begins to figure out how to spend the additional money allocated to K-12 education.
“Higher income, less unemployment, is there a difference in what they spend per pupil,” said Tallman. “There clearly is. The highest educated states spend the most per pupil. States with the lowest percentage of people with a four-year degree spend the lowest amount per pupil.”
The top states in college completion spent an average of $16,558 per pupil in 2015; the next highest group spent $13,849 per pupil; the second lowest in college completion spent $12,330; and the states with the lowest college completion spent $10,670. Kansas ranks 15th in the country in the percent of adults with a four-year degree, but ranks just 31st in total funding per pupil, at $12,055.
So, what should schools be spending their money on? Tallman says personnel is important.
“As I have looked at it, I think it’s pretty simple,” said Tallman. “Almost any kind of employee can be helpful. In some other work we’re doing, we kind of look at highest achieving states, lowest achieving states and what we find is, not only do the states with better overall results spend more per pupil, but they have more staff for their student population.”
Kansas school districts have eliminated almost 2,000 positions since 2009, partly following the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. But almost 400 jobs have been eliminated since the tax cuts fully took effect for the 2013 school year budget. The hope is that some of those jobs can come back with the increase in funding.