Legislators ask, schools answer: #FundingHelpsStudents

For the first time in eight years, Meade USD 226 will have summer school to help struggling students. 

The district of approximately 400 students in southwestern Kansas has also expanded pre-school, improved its ability to address the social and emotional needs of young people and added a Career Academy to help students better prepare for life after graduation. 

Meade’s efforts are an example of how public schools across Kansas have used recent increases in K-12 funds from the Legislature to drive student success after years of funding that trailed inflation, causing schools to pullback on many initiatives. 

Last week, KASB and USA-Kansas asked Kansas districts to provide summaries of what they have done with their additional funding after some lawmakers asked where the new resources have been directed. 

Within a few days, more than 100 school districts, such as Meade USD 226, responded. Here is a link to the complete Funding Helps Students list. Districts are encouraged to continue sending information to mtallman@kasb.org or gabuie@usakansas.org so the list can be updated. 

School officials have directed the additional resources in numerous ways to help our Kansas students. The funds are preparing students before they start school, keeping them safe and providing a stable learning environment throughout their public school career and assisting them in making that important transition after graduation, whether that be continuing postsecondary studies or pursuing a career. 

Many districts have hired additional counselors, social workers or other personnel to help at-risk students or students who are dealing with adverse experiences. Many districts have hired more teachers to reduce class size, so that each student can receive more attention. Many districts have provided decent pay raises to teachers after years of small or no raises. Kansas teacher salaries have failed to keep up with inflation and have fallen further behind most states, making the ability to recruit and retain teachers more difficult. 

The list of improvements through increased funding includes a wide range of strategies, all aimed at helping students succeed.  

For example, Labette County USD 506 had one counselor for 920 students in pre-K through eighth-grade in five attendance centers. Now it has two counselors. El Dorado USD 490 hired a second Jobs for America’s Graduates instructor, doubling efforts with its students at risk. 

Many districts have added preschool or expanded preschool to all-day, such as Hillsboro USD 410, which added four-year-old, all-day preschool class to have students ready for kindergarten and to have all students reading at grade level at the end of second grade. 

Lyndon USD 421 added a bus route to take students home who stay after school to get the help they need. Frontenac USD 249 used additional funding to develop after school tutoring programs which was one of the areas cut earlier due to budget constraints.  

Additional K-12 funding has been a good investment for Kansas as districts focus on the Kansans Can vision of Kansas leading the world in the success of each student. This can only happen through a meaningful partnership between the state, local school boards and teachers and staff. We hope this list of positive improvements in our schools will help legislators as they debate the need for the inflation fix that is sought by Gov. Laura Kelly, the State Board of Education and the plaintiff school districts to resolve the lawsuit before the Kansas Supreme Court.

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