Kansas School Budget Continues to Take Hits

Working on a tight budget seems to be the theme for many school districts in Kansas with the state's education budget continuing to take hits.

Posted: Oct 10, 2017 6:10 PM
Updated: Oct 19, 2017 10:42 AM

Working on a tight budget seems to be the theme for many school districts in Kansas with the state's education budget continuing to take hits.

"Sometimes it's difficult for school districts in Kansas to budget because the state legislature and the Supreme Court is always in limbo," Riverside Superintendent Bob Blair said.

The Kansas Supreme Court recently ruled the state is still behind in its investment in education. This despite the fact legislators met in special session earlier this year to add almost 300 million to the public school budget.

The court says this is hitting less wealthy school districts the hardest.

"Our talks have always been about how can we manage the resources that we have to the best of our ability and continue to provide a quality education for grades K-12," Troy Superintendent Pat McKernan said.

This year schools like Troy received a little more funding, while schools like Riverside saw less coming in.

Consolidation at Riverside back in 2010 hoped kept problems from being even worse.

"That arrangements obviously has worked out well for us," Blair said. "Our students have better opportunities, but I think the concern of a lot of us and the concern of the Supreme Court is that funding for public schools in Kansas has been declining since 2009."

Several districts had to wait before submitting budgets this summer while waiting for the courts to rule on school finance. This meant plans for new programs or supplies had to be put on the back burner.

"We would like to pursue a one-to-one initiative for computer devices with kids and we've put that off a little bit," McKernan said.

It's unclear exactly how much funding will meet the court's expectations, but educators try to keep the focus on the students.

"All students in Kansas should have an equal education and some students shouldn't have a lesser education because their district brings in less taxes or has to raise taxes," Blair said.

The state is looking a possible tax increase for the second year in a row to meet the funding concerns by the Kansas Supreme Court.

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