Senate majority leader says some school districts may have to repay some transportation funding

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, says school districts may have to repay millions of dollars in transportation funding allocated by the Kansas State Department of Education.

Denning sent a letter to State Board of Education Chairman Jim Porter seeking information related to a state audit that found KSDE instituted a transportation funding formula for the most densely populated school districts that wasn’t authorized by state law. The audit said KSDE provided $45 million more in transportation funding over the past five years. KSDE has said the formula had been approved by legislators and discussed with legislative committees. Bills to codify the practice have been filed this session.

Last week, Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, and House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, called for suspending Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis over the issue. Both leaders also called for further probes into the transportation funding issue. Attorney General Derek Schmidt has also called for an audit into the expenditures to districts. The State Board of Education voted against the suggestions from legislative leaders, saying Dennis’ allocation method was appropriate and known.

Denning’s letter to Porter notes that since 1992, the K-12 funding formula provides that if a school district is paid more than its entitled to receive, then the school district must remit those funds to the State Board of Education.

Denning has asked the State Board to explain the authority KSDE used to make the questioned transportation allocations, a worksheet showing the alleged overpayments and documents on the funding practice that State Board members said were provided to the Legislature.

Denning said if KSDE doesn’t have the statutory authority to make the payments, then the State Board should provide a plan to repay the funds.

Denning said he wanted a response from the State Board by 5 p.m. Thursday.

Share this post