The Kansas Association of School Boards has a new tool constituents can use to see where their school district spent money in the 2017-2018 school year.
“There’s always a lot of discussion about how districts spend their money,” said Mark Tallman with KASB. “How much goes to instruction? How much goes to other areas? What people may or may not know is that all districts are required to use an accounting process that breaks spending into broad categories called functions, which revolve around the main things school districts do.”
Every school district’s decisions are made by the local board and based on the district’s individual circumstances.
“That’s one reason why we always are opposed to ideas that have been kicked around in state law that says you have to spend a certain amount of money a certain way or even to argue that there’s a right or wrong percentage,” said Tallman.
The geographic size of a district, the size of the schools within it, their age and stage of repair and the distance between schools are all areas that can change percentages of resources used, leaving aside the needs of schools with disproportionate numbers of special needs or at-risk students.
“A large part of this is to help people understand all the things that districts do and the problem of deciding, well what do you think counts as the classroom,” said Tallman. “If you only are looking at instruction, which is about 53, 54 percent of the total, many people will say, well gee, what else are you spending money on and forget, that’s not counting counselors and nurses and librarians for professional development support. It’s not counting technology staff and those other services for students.”
This tool is designed to be a jumping off point where you can find out the general pattern and then contact your district leadership and local school board members to dig into the details.