Tallman Education Report tackles transportation funding controversyScott Rothschild
KASB’s Mark Tallman, associate executive director for advocacy, said Friday the transportation payments to schools that have been criticized by Republican legislative leaders should not be controversial and should not be repaid.
In December, Legislative Post Audit released a report that said the Kansas State Department of Education implemented a transportation funding formula that provided additional funds to densely-populated school districts that weren’t authorized in statute.
Over the past two weeks, Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, and House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe, requested a forensic audit of the transportation payments and suspension of KSDE personnel, while Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, suggested school districts may be required to repay millions of dollars.
But Tallman points out, the LPA report did not call for any funds to be paid back and in fact said the state transportation aid formula failed to cover the costs of providing transportation to students as required by law.
Tallman also notes that calls to pay back the funding to support “the rule of law,” fail to take into account that the Legislature frequently disregards state law in other areas of school funding such as special education.
In addition, although the LPA report said the adjusted funding was unauthorized, it also said the payments were probably justified. KSDE has said the adjustment had been made to comply with the intent of legislators and the state law on school transportation funds could allow for interpretation on how to best implement it.