Common questions about Kansas Public Schools Answered

Common questions about Kansas Public Schools Answered

What are the long- and short-term trends in Kansas
educational outcomes?

Long-term Kansas education levels have improved steadily
for decades and have never been higher, as measured by years of education
. Short-term, the record is more mixed.

A higher percentage of students are completing high school,
attending college, and completing college degrees than ever before, both adults
over age 24 and recent high school graduates age 18-24.
High school requirements have gotten tougher. Students are
taking more courses, and more core academic subjects. Graduation requirements
and admissions standards for Kansas universities have increased. These changes are
adding value, because average income rises with each additional level of
Kansas state reading and math test scores rose in the 2000’s
before falling in the early 2010’s. On new tests, scores declined slightly in
the past three years.  On national
reading and math tests at 4th and 8th grade, Kansas scores rose during the
2000s but have fallen back since 2011. The percentage of students scoring
“college ready” on ACT tests increased from 2006 to 2014 but declined the last
several years.
The “four year” graduation rate and percentage of students
participating in or completing postsecondary education has improved over the
last several years (These are new measures).
What are the long- and short-term trends in Kansas school

Long-term Kansas K-12 funding has increased more than
inflation, but not in the past ten years
Prior to 2010, total school funding typically increased
about one to two percent more than inflation each year. From 2010 to 2017,
funding usually increased at less than the rate of inflation or declined. Even
after the Legislature increased funding last year, total school funding was
below 2009 levels when adjusted for inflation.
However, Kansas education funding has not increased more
than the state’s overall economy. Education funding is at a lower share of the
total income of all Kansans it was in 1990.
As noted, long-term educational outcomes have increased as
long-term funding increased; short-term outcomes have been mixed as funding
didn’t keep up with inflation.
How have school districts used increased funding in the

Schools used “real” (more than inflation) increases to
improve services to students and maintain quality
School districts used additional funding to:
  • Cover increasing student enrollment.
  • Keep school salaries and benefits competitive
    with other states and the private sector (which have
    usually increased faster than inflation).
  • Lower class sizes.
  • Serve more students in preschool and all-day
  • Expand special education services.
  • Increase funding for safety, mental health and
    school nutrition.
  • Improve technology and school facilities.

These efforts were limited from 2009 to 2017 as funding fell
behind inflation. Districts have begun to restore efforts last year and this
year with additional funding approved by the Legislature.
How do Kansas educational outcomes compare to other

Kansas ranks at or above that U.S. average on a wide
range of education outcomes, and very high when all measures are averaged. But
other states are improving faster.

Indicators include national reading and math tests at grades
four and eight, graduation rates, ACT and SAT college readiness tests, and high
school completion and college participation by 18-24-year-olds. Where possible,
this includes data for low-income students and other subgroups. Although many
states do better than Kansas on SOME of these measures, very few do better on
all or most. Overall, Kansas ranks 9th when these indicators for the
most recent year are averaged.
However, in recent years, many other states have improved
more than Kansas on these indicators. In other words, other states have been
“catching up” with Kansas outcomes.
How does Kansas educational funding compare to other

Kansas has consistently spent below the national average
and has fallen further behind in recent years
Since 2008, Kansas has fallen behind further behind the
national average. In 2016, the most recent year national data is available,
Kansas total per pupil funding was 30th in the nation. Kansas ranked
40th in the increase in funding between 2008 and 2016. Kansas has
also fallen behind most states in the region.
How is Kansas school funding

Most school funding
goes to instruction (direct teaching of students) and other services for
students and teachers. Less than five percent is used for general administration
and central services. The rest goes to school facility construction, operations
and maintenance.

Specifically, 54 percent to instruction; 5 percent to
student services; 5 percent to school building principals and staff; 4 percent to
transportation; 4 percent to food services; 3 percent to libraries and teacher
support; 10 percent to debt service on school construction bonds; 9 percent on
operations and maintenance; 2 percent on building construction; 2 percent on general
administration and 2 percent on central services. (2017 school district
Kansas provides less total per pupil funding than most
states, and also less than most states on non-instructional spending, including
Who determines how
much schools can spend and how the money can be used?

School funding is
mixture of state, local and federal funding, with many “strings” attached.

The Legislature mostly determines how much general operating
funding districts receive by setting a base amount per pupil, enrollment weightings
and state special education aid; and setting a cap on local option budget.
Local school boards a lot of flexibility in how these funds are spent, but some
are limited to specific programs, like special education, at-risk and bilingual
School building and facilities costs are mostly determined
by local voters through bond issues and capital outlay levies. These funds
generally cannot be used for general operating purposes.
The federal government provides about 8 percent of Kansas
school funding, and about 40 percent of federal funding is food service
support. Most federal funds can only be used for specific purposes.