Just-spend-more proponents say KPERS spending shouldn’t count towards school funding, without acknowledging that non-KPERS funding set per-pupil records in 2014 and 2015. And new data from the Kansas Department of Education shows another record was set last year.
Total spending per-pupil did decline a bit last year, but only because of there was less spending on KPERS (which means districts costs declined also) and because many districts didn’t spend all of their aid. Carryover operating cash reserves jumped another $58 million and set new record at $911 million.
Non-KPERS spending also continues to run far ahead of inflation. If adjusted for inflation over the life of the old finance formula, per-pupil spending would have been $8,889 last year, but actual spending was 40 percent higher. In total dollars, non-KPERS funding would have been $1.6 billion less last year.
KPERS or no KPERS, the truth remains that education spending has and continues to go up and up, student performance stays flat at unacceptably low levels, and significant income-based achievement gaps persist – no matter what the deniers might say.