Wichita School Spending Incomplete Coverage

A Wichita Eagle article (Would economic crisis affect the sale of bonds?) contains some potentially misleading information about USD 259, the Wichita school district, spending.

In answering the question “How much does the district spend per student?” the figure given by chief financial officer Linda Jones was $11,659 per student. This figure is based on an enrollment number of 47,227, said to be from the state department of education.

Using figures found on this page at the Kansas State Department of Education http://www3.ksde.org/cgi-bin/dist_rpt_yrs?org_no=D0259, total enrollment for 2007-2008 is 48,475. If you use the KSDE website to produce a custom report, you can learn that the FTE enrollment for 2007-2008 is 45,181.8.

As you spread USD 259’s spending over a larger number of students, the spending per student is smaller. I can understand how USD 259 officials want to minimize the reported spending numbers, as the level of spending is huge. In talking with members of the community, very few people are familiar with the amount of USD 259 spending.

For the present school year, budgeted spending is $605,419,477. Dividing by USD 259’s reported headcount enrollment of 49,146 produces $12,319 in spending per student.

But basing spending-per-student calculations on what the Kansas State Department of Education uses — FTE enrollment — produces higher numbers. We don’t have FTE numbers for the current school year, but it is very likely that spending per student this year will approach or exceed $13,000 per full time equivalent student.

This article also states: “The state paid districts last year about $4,374 per student in basic aid. Wichita schools receive additional state money for at-risk, special education and bilingual students.” I don’t know why the article doesn’t state just how much additional the Wichita school district received. According to the Kansas State Department of Education, for 2006-2007, Wichita schools received $6,955 in funding per FTE enrollment.

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