Despite years of purported budget cuts, the Wichita public school district has been able to improve or maintain student/teacher ratios.
When discussing school funding, there is controversy over how spending should be measured. What funds are included? Is KPERS included? Should we adjust for enrollment and inflation? What about bond and interest funds and capital outlay?
The largest expenditures of schools — some 80 percent nationwide — is personnel costs. In Kansas, and Wichita in particular, we’re told that budget cuts are causing school class sizes to increase.
When we look at numbers, we see that the Wichita school district has — over the long term — been able to maintain or reduce its student/teacher ratios. (Student/teacher ratio is not the same statistic as class size.) There have been a few ups and downs along the way, but for all three school levels, the ratios are lower or nearly the same than they were ten years ago. (Click charts for larger versions.)
This means that Wichita schools have been able to increase employment of teachers at a faster rate than enrollment has risen.
So however spending is categorized in funds, whether KPERS contributions are included or not, whether the funding comes from state or local sources, whether spending is adjusted for inflation, the Wichita school district has been able to improve or maintain its student/teacher ratios.
Data is from USD 259 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2016, Miscellaneous Statistics, page 118, and CAFR from other years.