Kelly, school officials urge Kansans to get involved to ensure accurate Census count

Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday announced a statewide initiative to make sure every Kansan is counted in the 2020 U.S. Census so that schools and numerous other entities receive their fair share of federal dollars. 

Through an executive order, Kelly formed the Kansas Complete Count Committee, which will work with local groups to get an accurate Census count next year. 

“The data collected in the Census informs how the federal government distributes funds to our state — through 55 different federal programs,” Kelly said. “And it’s these funds that help to pay for roads, schools, hospitals, emergency services and much more,” she said. 

For every person not counted in the Census, Kansas stands to lose $1,539 in federal funds per year for 10 years, the governor’s office said. 

The committee will be chaired by Brian McClendon, of Lawrence and co-founder of the mapping application that became Google Earth, and Joyce Warshaw, a Dodge City commissioner and board member of the League of Kansas Municipalities. 

The National School Boards Association has called on public school advocates across the country to get involved in the 2020 Census.   

Frank Henderson, a member of the Seaman USD 345 board and Western Region Director representative of NSBA, attended Gov. Kelly’s announcement.  

“These counts determine federal dollars that will flow into the state of Kansas in so many different ways, including our public schools,” Henderson said. “We as public schools educate every child that comes through our door and we want every child to be counted,” Henderson said.  

Henderson also serves on the KASB board and is a former president of KASB. His interview can be seen here on KASB’s Facebook page.   

Since Census data is used in much of federal funding and political redistricting, an undercount could have a devastating impact on schools and local political power. In the 2010 Census, more than two million children weren’t counted.   

NSBA is urging school districts to join local Complete Count Committees, which develop strategies and work plans to encourage the public’s participation with census takers. More information on these committees is available at www.census.gov website.   

NSBA also is urging the Trump administration to refrain from policies that would result in an undercount. Recently, the Trump administration has been embroiled in a legal fight over whether to add a controversial question to the census on citizenship. The Census Bureau has not asked all households about U.S. citizenship status in nearly 70 years and some groups say asking about citizenship will lower census participation, leading to an undercount of immigrants and communities of color.  

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