New numbers compiled by the Kansas Association of School Boards show that the state is doing better after the increase in school funding, but maybe not as much better as some would have hoped for.
“When you adjust for inflation, the Consumer Price Index, we actually are still below where we were a decade ago,” said Mark Tallman, Vice President for Advocacy with KASB. “It’s critical to realize that, although we’ve had increases, most of it is making up for cuts, not actually pushing ahead of what we spent in the past.”
On a per-pupil basis, Kansas is still struggling with the latest numbers available.
“The national data lags a few years, so we only have information through 2017,” said Tallman. “What we saw is that Kansas was fairly close to the national average, still a little bit below in 2009. We had dropped to about $1500 below the national average in 2017, which equaled almost $800 million, in kind of lost money compared to if Kansas was funded at the average.”
The percentage of Kansas income that goes to education has increased, but it’s still below where the state has been in past decades.
“We have been at about 50 percent of the state budget going to K-12 education back since the mid 90’s,” said Tallman. “That was a decision in Kansas to have more money from the state to help keep local taxes and property taxes down. They are lower than other states. Even with the additional funding provided this year, we’ll be at about 51.5 percent of the budget.”
It’s important to note that decisions made by the legislature to shore up funding in the Kansas Public Retirement System are also counted as K-12 state aid, but don’t change immediate classroom operating budgets.