New school finance study says Kansas schools are extremely efficient

The new school cost study gives Kansas public schools top grades in efficiency (link updated to newest version).

The study by national school finance consultants, Lori Taylor and Jason Willis, says that Kansas schools were producing at nearly 96 percent of their potential cost efficiency, on average. 

Taylor, a professor at Texas A&M, said Kansas schools make “remarkably good use of resources.” And Willis, with the education research firm WestEd, said Kansas schools were operating at an efficiency level that neither he nor Taylor had seen anywhere else. 

Taylor and Willis were in Topeka on Monday to discuss their new report with legislators. The study, unveiled on Friday, says it will cost from $450 million to $2.1 billion more to help Kansas reach its stated goals of improving student achievement. Taylor and Willis were hired by conservative legislative leaders to produce a study to help address the Kansas Supreme Court ruling that the current school finance system is inadequate. 

After making those statements about the efficiency of Kansas schools, several education leaders said the comments and study confirmed what they knew. 

“Kansas education officials have been saying this for years,” tweeted Shannon Kimball, who is KASB President-Elect Designee and president of the Lawrence USD 497 school board. She added, “Can we finally stop debating whether we are efficient enough and finally focus on doing what we need to do to support the educational needs of our kids?” 

Craig Correll, superintendent of Coffeyville USD 445, tweeted, “We’ve done everything we could do to adjust to budget cuts and block grants. This is no surprise to any superintendent in Kansas.” 

The study results parallel KASB research that shows Kansas ranks 10th among states in student achievement across a wide range of measurements and ranks 31st in unadjusted per pupil spending, 25th adjusted for cost differences and 39th in percentage increase from 2008-15. The Comparing Kansas report also shows that every state that ranks ahead of Kansas in student achievement spends more per pupil than Kansas. 

 

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