Kansas public schools will lose teachers, support staff, programs and services as a result of a $100 million cut in general operating funds next year under the state budget passed last week by the Kansas Legislature.
Because of the state’s action, local school boards face painful choices for next school year: cutting teachers and other school personnel, closing schools, raising local taxes and fees, and using one-time cash reserves.
“It is important for school leaders, parents, patrons and state officials to understand the impact of the downward spiral in education funding,” said Dr. John Heim, executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards. “There is no way to avoid the fact this budget will damage the programs that have helped more students reach higher levels of achievement and create the need for significant reductions in staff,” he said.
School advocates warn these funding cuts threaten the academic progress Kansas has made in recent years, particularly for students at-risk of academic difficulty, a growing percentage of the school populations.
“We commend the efforts of state leaders who opposed even deeper cuts in education funding, but the downward spiral in the investment Kansans are making in public education will not prepare our state for future success,” Heim said.
The starting point for funding education for every student is the base budget per pupil, which will drop $232 to a 10-year low of $3,870 next school year. That is 5.8 percent lower than last year, and 14 percent below 2008-09.
School district general operating funds are made up of base state aid plus state special education aid and weightings for special services such as at-risk, bilingual, vocational programs and transportation. General fund spending per pupil, that includes these calculations, will fall to $6,474, which is $803, or 11 percent lower than just four years ago.
The purchasing power of school district budgets continues to erode, meaning such things as insurance, fuel and supplies cost more even as budgets are cut. Since the end of the 2008-09 school year, the inflation rate (consumer price index) has increased 4.2 percent. State economic experts project inflation will increase by 2.2 percent this year and 2.2 percent in 2012.
More and more districts across the state have no option other than reducing their largest cost: personnel. Since 2008-09, districts have reduced total employees by 2,295 positions, or 3.2 percent of the total.
Certified teaching positions have been reduced by 1,106.5, or 3.1 percent. Other major areas of reduction have been instructional support (library staff and directors of curriculum areas), down 275.3 or 11.6 percent; central administration, down 163.6 or 7.9 percent; school administration, down 187.4 or 4.7 percent; operating and maintenance staff, down 258.9 or 4.5 percent, and food service staff, down 192.9, or 5.6 percent.
How the budget impacts school aid programs:
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FY12 Base Budgets
$232 or 5.8 percent lower than FY11
$620 or 14 percent below benchmark year of FY09
The drop is mostly due to the expiration of federal stimulus funds the state had not replaced.
FY12 Total General Fund Per Pupil
$803 or 11 percent lower than FY09
Includes pupil weights and state special education aid.
The general fund is the major operating fund for school districts.
Total general fund budgets per pupil have been reduced by $170 million since FY09, and will be reduced another $108.4 million for FY11.
Special Education Funding
The Legislature added $21.2 million this year (FY11) for state special education aid and an additional $60 million, recommended by the Governor, for special education next year.
This meets the federal maintenance of effort requirements and keeps the state from losing millions in federal special education aid.
Districts will lose $55 million in federal special education funding when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expires next year.
Next year’s state appropriation will fund only 89 percent of the estimated excess cost of special education services because costs continue to rise. This is $18 million less than the 92 percent promised by the Legislature.
MentorProgram and National Board Certification
Cut Mentor Teacher program ($1.5 million): This was passed by the Legislature several years ago and has been shown to help retain new teachers. This also eliminates funding for teachers receiving National Board Certification.
Communities in Schools Program
Cut Communities in Schools program ($35,000): The program coordinates research-based efforts to improve graduation rates.
50 percent reduction in After-School Programs: This cut impacts state funding for after-school programs and middle school after-school programs by 50 percent, to $187,500 and $125,000, respectively.
Cut Agriculture in the Classroom: This program, one of the oldest grant programs, is eliminated ($35,000).
KAN-ED Technology Network
Reduced Kansas Universal Service Fund for the Kan-ed funding: Kan-ed, administered under the Kansas Board of Regents, was reduced from $10 million to $6 million.
Kan-ed provides internet connectivity and technology support for public and private schools, colleges and universities, libraries and hospitals.
The Legislature is requesting an interim study and a Legislative Post Audit review of Kan-ed.
Early Education Program Changes: These programs are funded through Children’s Initiatives Fund revenues, which are derived from the state tobacco settlement. The budget transfers $6.7 million from the State General Fund to help make up part of the shortfall.
Early Childhood Block Grants: Increased from $10 million to $10.6 million.
Autism Block Grant: Cut from $50,000 to $48,170.
Early Head Start: Cut from $3.5 million to $66,584.
Page 3 of 3 - Parent as Teachers: Cut from $7.4 million to $7.2 million.
Pre-K Pilot: Cut from $4.9 million to $4.8 million.
New Reading Program: “Reading Roadmap,” proposed by the Governor, was funded at $933,137.
KansasPublic Employees Retirement System
State employer contributions for the school group under the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System will increase by $36.4 million next year to $319.8 million.
That is nearly double the KPERS contribution rate made just six years ago in 2006.
This is a significant cost to the state for an important program and shows as funding for public education. However, school districts cannot use these funds for current costs, such as maintaining staff or programs.