A Kansas calamity, at $15,399 per pupil


If things are so bad in Kansas schools at this level of spending, will any amount of spending satisfy school districts?

The Washington Post has presented a letter written by a schoolteacher in Wamego. Reading it, one might be excused for concluding that a massive calamity has befallen Kansas and Wamego specifically.

The letter is full of complaints: “Resources and staff are limited.” “Due to budget cuts, again, we are not able to have a full-time librarian, art teacher, technology teacher or music teacher.” “Schools are already struggling because of underfunding so adding more fiscal responsibility will only further cut programs.”

Click for larger version.
Click for larger version.
Given these complaints, we might look at the statistics for this district. Total spending for the school year that ended in 2014 was $15,399 per pupil. That’s lower than 2009, when spending was $16,154 (inflation-adjusted dollars). Spending in 2014 was up from the year before. See Kansas school teacher cuts, student ratios.

Spending supported by the state was $7,359 last year, down from $8,609 in 2009 (inflation-adjusted).

School Employment, USD 320 WamegoEmployment in this district has risen. Both the number of teachers and the number of certified employees is much higher than the 2009 — 2011 years. Correspondingly, the ratios of these employees to students has declined since then, although the pupil-teacher ratio has risen the past two years. See Kansas school spending visualization updated.

School Employment ratios, USD 320 WamegoThis school district has one certified employee for every eight pupils.

So: Some numbers are up, others are down, and some mostly unchanged. Taxpayers have to wonder, though: If a school district receives well over $15,000 per pupil each year, how much more does it want?


3 responses to “A Kansas calamity, at $15,399 per pupil”

  1. Bob Landon

    While I can’t speak to Wamego, the larger question of what school districts need I think has been answered. Schools are saying to fund the current formula. There isn’t a school lawsuit if the formula is being funded.

  2. I would like a definition of a “certified” vs non-certified employee. The real need is Teachers in all areas. The real need is the education of our children. Cutting costs should be a priority one county One Superintendent with only one principle at each location. This would eliminate many high paid administrative costs and associated supplemental costs.

    There are many children who do not want to sit in a classroom and our schools lack the ability to teach work place skills like a vocational school. Consolidation should be considered more strongly to maintain class size in rural schools & to develop work skills. It looks to be time to try something different – something new rather than just throwing money at the problem, fix the problem.

  3. Bob Landon

    Larry – ‘Certified’ means a teacher with a license from the state teaching in a classroom.
    Non-Certified encompasses everything else. That includes administrators, but it also includes things like librarians, guidance counselors, and paraprofessionals.

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