Wichita schools on the funding decrease


How much has Wichita and Kansas public school funding decreased?

It depends on who you ask, and the context, too.

The school spending lobby is portraying the decline in funding in ways that make the numbers appear as bad as possible. For example, the Wichita Public Schools 2010 legislative platform states “Since January 2009, funding for regular education has decreased by 9.5%.”

If the total amount of money schools has to spend had fallen by that amount, that would be one thing. But this figure looks at only a portion of total school funding.

What does the 9.5% figure represent? In a resolution to be voted on Monday by the Wichita school board, we can read this: “the Kansas Legislature and the Governor have thus far cut funding to schools by reducing the Base Budget Per Pupil by $421, a 9.5% cut.”

That’s it. It’s base state aid per pupil that was cut by 9.5%, or $421. But base state aid per pupil is only a portion of total school spending. In the case of the Wichita school district, it’s less than one-third of total funding and spending.

To put a cut of $421 in context, consider the total spending by USD 259. It’s somewhere around $13,000 per pupil. $421 is 3.2% of that.

That figure is in line with the picture that Kansas schools statewide face. Recently I asked for updated Kansas school spending figures after the governor’s cuts near the end of November. The document I received from the Kansas State Department of Education indicates that for the current school year, spending per pupil is estimated to decline by 3.43%.

It’s interesting to note that for the last school year, spending increased by 3.87%.

(The document I received is available by clicking on Kansas School Spending, December 2009.)

Information on the true financial picture of Kansas schools is sometimes difficult to come by, as shown above. The school spending lobby — seeking to expand school spending as much as possible — often refuses to acknowledge basic facts and will shade other facts.

Related: Kansas school funding email confuses, misleads.


3 responses to “Wichita schools on the funding decrease”

  1. LonnythePlumber

    The legislators still should not have given the schools money away to us voters in order to get re-elected.

  2. CRAIG

    Lonny you miss the point. It only costs $4000 per student to educate children K-12. I know I just paid to put my daughter through 8 years at Bethal life. The real difference is that 100% of the kids in the 8th grade class passed the State assessment test not 64% like 259 educated kids. I am not a church member and received no discounts. You can figure this out yourself. the average 259 class is 20 kids, times $13,000 per student equals $260,000 per class room. The average teacher makes well under $40,000 per year. What happens to the other $220,000 per class room. Let me give you a few examples. In 1958 when Truesdale opened it a principle and 38 teachers and a janitor. 50 years later the same school has 148 employees including secretaries, counselors, a vice superintendent for each grade, an assistant to each teacher. Administration burns up a full 30 plus % of 259’s budget. The simple fact of the matter is that 259 could send every child to private school
    and save tax payers $450 million annually. And the kids would get a much better education.

  3. […] It’s not uncommon for the school spending lobby and its supporters to do what they can to hide the magnitude of spending on schools. They’ll also do their best to exaggerate the effects of any slowdown in the rapid rate at which spending has been increasing. This was demonstrated by Rep. Melody McCray-Miller at a recent legislative forum in Wichita. She disputed the total amount of spending by the Wichita school district. Wichita board of education member Lanora Nolan disputed these same figures at a Wichita Pachyderm Club meeting. Also see Wichita schools on the funding decrease. […]

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