Per-pupil spending once again exceeded $13 thousand in the 2015-16 school year and the 2016-17 year is expected to be another record year for total and per-pupil expenditures. This according to financial data received from the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE).
After four consecutive years of record spending, per-pupil funding dipped to $13,015 in 2015-16. However, the decrease can be explained by two factors. First, schools increased their cash reserves by $57.6 million to a record $911 million. It should be noted that it is unclear whether the districts had legal authority to spend all of that aid. According to KSDE Deputy Commission for Finance Dale Dennis, “School districts cannot exceed the amount budgeted or the legislative cap if there is one. For example, there is a cap on LOB, the published budget, revenue sources, etc.” That notwithstanding, had the full $57.6 million been used, it would have increased per-pupil spending last year by $125 to $13,140, which would have been an all-time high.
The other factor to consider is the delayed payment to KPERS. According to Budget Director Shawn Sullivan the delayed amount is $97.4 million. Had that payment been made, it alone would have increased per-pupil spending to $13,225, again a record amount.
KSDE estimates put Kansas on pace for record spending in 2016-17. As the table shows, expected education spending in the current year is $6.09 billion, eclipsing the 2014-15 record of $6.08 billion. Per-pupil spending is estimated to be $13,145, also the highest ever.
Spending at the district level is set to be released this week.