••• Education •••

School funding still sets new record with block grant proposal

You wouldn’t know it from media reports or school district newsletters, but school funding will still set another new record this year. Superintendents say they are dealing with budget cuts but that is largely government-speak for not getting as much of an increase as they would like – and media laps it up without asking how this year’s funding compares with last year.

blockgrant2015totalThe Kansas Department of Education (KDSE) says the proposed block grants for the current school year total $3.409 billion, but the block grants do not include state funding for Special Education or Bond & Interest aid. Including those amounts as listed in the Governor’s Budget Report puts total state aid at $3.985 billion. A few months ago, KSDE Deputy Superintendent of Finance Dale Dennis estimated Local aid at $1.652 billion and Federal aid at $510 million. That would put total taxpayer support at $6.147 billion this year and set a new funding record for the fourth consecutive year.

Funding per-pupil would be $13,347 (based on revised KSDE estimated enrollment of 460,526) and set a new record for the third consecutive year. (Note: the original publication of this post put per-pupil spending at $13,262 based on the original KSDE enrollment estimate of 463,500; KSDE has since revised their enrollment estimate downward.)

Total funding last year according to KSDE was $5.976 billion, so the revised estimate for this year represents a $171 million increase. Also of note, KSDE puts KPERS funding last year at $312 million and shows $315 million included in the block grant; that means – contrary to claims you might have heard – that almost all of the funding increase is not related to pension funding.

Here is a historical perspective on per-pupil school funding, adjusted upward for KPERS in the years prior to 2005 (when it wasn’t included in KSDE funding reports). The blue line shows actual funding and red line show what funding would have if adjusted for inflation each year. FYI, funding this year would be $1.543 billion less if it had just been increased for inflation and enrollment. (Note: the variance was originally reported at $1.503 billion based on a different enrollment figure as explained above.)