Opinion Columns & Blogs

If K-12 state aid is up 8 percent, why all the cuts?

Much of the 7.8 percent increase in state aid since 2011 cannot be used for school districts’ general operating expenses.
Much of the 7.8 percent increase in state aid since 2011 cannot be used for school districts’ general operating expenses.

Speaking on a Kansas City public television station, Gov. Sam Brownback attributed legislative conservatives’ losses in the GOP primary to a failure to communicate that state funding for K-12 public education “has gone up by 8 percent” on his watch. If it has, why are districts including Wichita’s USD 259 closing schools and cutting programs, jobs and other expenses? Mark Tallman, associate executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards, explained in a blog post that the 7.8 percent increase in state aid since 2011 didn’t keep up with inflation. Plus, much of the additional state money went to the pension fund, bond and interest, and other budget categories “that cannot be used for general operating expenditures.” Because “state operating aid has fallen far behind the rate of inflation,” he wrote, “school districts have had to cut programs, positions or salaries in order to keep (up) with fixed costs and rising enrollment.” – Rhonda Holman

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