At a forum for candidates for the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, several candidates showed they were not informed on the level of school spending.
A questioner asked specifically for per student spending from all funds.
John Crane answered the question this way: “Last year I believe, and I’m not for sure on this, but it was $3,000 and something that we spent per child. … We’re back down to the 1970s when it comes to cost per children.”
Mike Rodee answered: “I believe the budget for 2012-2013 was $3,808 per student.” He added that “there’s some of the numbers we’re not 100 percent sure on. We’re just getting information now.”
Here are the actual numbers according to the Kansas State Department of Education: For the 2011 – 2012 school year, USD 259 spent $12,734 per student. Of that, $7,501 came from the State of Kansas, $1,531 from the federal government, and $3,702 from local taxes.
The figure Crane and Rodee referred to (the actual number is $3,838) is base state aid per pupil. It is the starting point for the Kansas school finance formula. It’s often cited for two reasons: It’s a lot less than the actual spending, and it has gone down in recent years. See Wichita school spending: The grain of truth.
But it doesn’t really mean much by itself. As you can see, Wichita schools received $7,501 from the state per student when base aid was $3,838. That’s an additional 95 percent over base aid.
Whether you think school spending is too high or too low, facts are facts. Spending is what it is. If we can’t agree on the level of school spending, we can’t have a reasoned discussion.
While surveys have shown that the average person has little knowledge of the level of school spending, we might ask that candidates for school board have the correct information. Sadly, even school board members and legislators are either uninformed or misinformed.
School Board candidates should review recent Eagle article as to how bond money has not been used as promised