Kansas State Capitol, Topeka

Kansas study says state needs billions more in school funding

March 19, 2018
Report, commissioned by legislators, says Kansas needs $1.7 billion and $2.2 billion in additional funding by 2022 to meet academic performance goals.

A school finance report for Kansas has concluded that billions of additional dollars are needed in the next five years to achieve student success. 

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the study, which was commissioned by Republican legislative leaders, recommends between a spending increase of between $1.7 billion and $2 billion by 2022.

If either of the two recommendations in the report is adopted, annual state spending on schools would increase from $4.652 billion for the current school year to $6.438 billion or $6.719 billion.

The lower dollar figure would enable the state to meet former federal performance goals of having 90 percent of students proficient in math and reading. The The higher dollar figure is needed to reach updated state standards that include a 95 percent graduation rate.

The Kansas City Star reports that the recommended dollar amounts shocked lawmakers and others who had expected the report would call for a smaller amount on school spending. Instead, the study says schools need much more to meet student achievement targets. 

[Read the entire 164-page report here]

Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, says the recommendations would require another tax increase and prevent the state from addressing needs in health care, social services, transportation or higher education.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in October that last year’s $300 million increase in state aid, paid for with an income tax hike, wasn’t enough to meet constitutional requirements for adequate school funding.

Republican leaders selected Lori Taylor, a Texas A&M University professor, and Jason Willis, who works with the nonprofit WestEd consulting firm, to conduct the $285,000 study.

House Minority Leader Jim Ward, a Wichita Democrat, says the report highlighted three key points: Money matters, the state has significantly underfunded schools for several years and it will be expensive to fix.

“If you want better outcomes, you have to spend the money for the better outcomes,” Ward says. “That’s clear. This is the third report in a row over the past 15 years that said the same thing.”

The report is expected to set lawmakers scrambling to meet the Supreme Court’s April 30 deadline to respond to its ruling last fall that found funding inadequate.

How to pay for a large increase is an open question. Kansas revenues have been up amid a strong economy and after lawmakers raised income taxes last year. But a $2 billion increase, even phased in over several years, would likely outpace rising revenue.

Sponsored Recommendations

Providing solutions that help creativity, collaboration, and communication.

Discover why we’re a one-stop shop for all things education. See how ODP Business Solutions can help empower your students, school, and district to succeed by supporting healthier...

Building Futures: Transforming K–12 Learning Environments for Tomorrow's Leaders

Discover how ODP Business Solutions® Workspace Interiors partnered with a pioneering school system, overcoming supply chain challenges to furnish 18 new K–12 campuses across 4...

How to design flexible learning spaces that teachers love and use

Unlock the potential of flexible learning spaces with expert guidance from school districts and educational furniture providers. Discover how to seamlessly integrate adaptive ...

Blurring the Lines in Education Design: K–12 to Higher Ed to Corporate America

Discover the seamless integration of educational and corporate design principles, shaping tomorrow's leaders from kindergarten to boardroom. Explore innovative classroom layouts...