Kansas Families United for Public Education (KFUPE) on state aid to schools

As of today (February 2, 2006), the website for Kansas Families United for Public Education (KFUPE) (located at http://fundourpublicschools.com) states, under the heading “The Crisis”: “State aid has failed to keep pace with inflation.”

I was puzzled by this statement, as I thought we were spending more and more on education each year. So I decided to investigate.

The Kansas State Department of Education has a table of recent education expenditures in Kansas. The data is located at http://www.ksde.org/leaf/data_warehouse/total_expenditures/d0Stateexp.pdf.

Here is the table of spending data:

Spending in Nominal Dollars
Total SpendingPer Student
SchoolFTE*StateFederalLocalTotalStateFederalLocalTotalTotal
YearEnrollmentAidAidRevenueExpenditures**AidAidRevenueExpendituresIncrease
1993-1994437,210.11,468,606,823137,260,1141,011,858,0242,617,724,9613,3593142,3145,9873.44
1994-1995440,684.21,558,335,916140,485,2961,012,554,5702,711,375,7823,5363192,2986,1532.77
1995-1996442,465.91,604,933,171150,316,6231,061,918,7932,817,168,5873,6273402,4006,3673.48
1996-1997445,767.31,618,449,030181,533,3201,121,816,1832,921,798,5333,6314072,5176,5552.95
1997-1998448,609.01,815,684,144189,120,4621,058,428,6633,063,233,2694,0474222,3596,8284.16
1998-1999448,925.72,035,194,082202,565,7251,004,736,6393,242,496,4464,5334512,2387,2235.79
1999-2000448,610.32,110,484,390220,780,3501,071,444,1323,402,708,8724,7044922,3887,5855.01
2000-2001446,969.92,152,622,486261,038,1531,172,918,4803,586,579,1194,8165842,6248,0245.79
2001-2002445,376.62,200,529,799310,104,6781,269,928,1133,780,562,5904,9416962,8518,4885.78
2002-2003444,541.42,277,804,680340,728,6481,335,185,5463,953,718,8745,1247663,0048,8944.78
2003-2004443,301.82,124,578,761376,908,1211,592,564,7284,094,051,6104,7938503,5939,2353.83
2004-2005441,867.62,362,223,172398,667,0401,528,524,3314,289,414,5435,3469023,4599,7075.11

Here is the Consumer Price Index for the relevant years:

CPI
(1982-84 = 100)
YearCPIInflation
1993144.5
1994148.22.6%
1995152.42.8%
1996156.93.0%
1997160.52.3%
1998163.01.6%
1999166.62.2%
2000172.23.4%
2001177.12.8%
2002179.91.6%
2003184.02.3%
2004188.92.7%

Applying some arithmetic to the figures in the spending table produces this table of inflation-adjusted spending:

Spending Change Year to Year, Real Dollars
Total SpendingPer Student
SchoolFTE*StateFederalLocalTotalStateFederalLocalTotal
YearEnrollmentAidAidRevenueExpenditures**AidAidRevenueExpenditures
1993-1994
1994-19950.8%3.5%-0.2%-2.4%1.0%2.6%-0.9%-3.2%0.2%
1995-19960.4%0.2%4.0%2.0%1.0%-0.3%3.6%1.6%0.6%
1996-19970.7%-2.1%17.3%2.6%0.7%-2.8%16.3%1.9%0.0%
1997-19980.6%9.7%1.8%-7.8%2.5%9.0%1.4%-8.4%1.8%
1998-19990.1%10.4%5.5%-6.5%4.2%10.3%5.2%-6.6%4.2%
1999-2000-0.1%1.5%6.6%4.3%2.7%1.5%6.7%4.4%2.7%
2000-2001-0.4%-1.3%14.4%5.9%2.0%-0.9%14.8%6.3%2.3%
2001-2002-0.4%-0.6%15.5%5.3%2.5%-0.2%15.9%5.6%2.9%
2002-2003-0.2%1.9%8.2%3.5%3.0%2.1%8.3%3.7%3.2%
2003-2004-0.3%-8.8%8.2%16.6%1.2%-8.5%8.5%16.9%1.5%
2004-2005-0.3%8.3%3.0%-6.5%2.1%8.6%3.4%-6.2%2.4%

As you can see, there are some years, most notably 2000 to 2004, where the “State Aid” figures, adjusted for inflation, are mostly decreasing. The statement on the Kansas Families United for Public Education website, therefore, could be construed as true. But over the period 1994 to 2005, “State Aid” increased by 61%, while inflation increased by 41%. So to make that statement true, you have to be looking at only recent history.

Also, to make that statement true, you have to be looking at only a small part of the total picture. “State Aid” is only part of the total source of funds that schools have. Schools also receive money from “Federal Aid” and “Local Revenue.” For 2004-2005, “State Aid” was 55% of the total spent on schools in Kansas, and for the period in the tables above, “State Aid” was 57.6% of total spending. When you consider the total amount spent, there is no year in which the increase in total spending was less than the rate of inflation for that year.

Then, there is even the larger picture. In recent years the number of students in Kansas has been declining. This means that the total spent per student increases at a faster rate than total spending.

Does it matter that “State Aid” might not be increasing as fast as total school spending? I don’t think the schoolchildren in Kansas can tell. But I should not make such a hasty conclusion. Given the mountain of regulations that public schools must comply with, there may be restrictions on how funds from certain sources may be spent, and those regulations might mean that the total available for schools to spend can’t be allocated optimally.

But I think I can safely conclude this: when advocates for school spending make the case that “State aid has failed to keep pace with inflation,” we should examine the total picture.

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