Welcome to 2019 and good‐bye 2018!!! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and are experiencing a fantastic beginning to a new year and one that holds many wonderful things. With the new year also comes the start of a new Legislative session and again this year there will be much discussion about education funding in the state of Kansas. We can look at many things when it comes to education funding but let’s examine what Kansas is geƫting for the money that is currently being spent. 

Mark Tallman, KASB Associate Executive Director/Advocacy, presented this information in a recent article titled, “What do we get for $13,300 per student?”‐‐‐Kansas invested over $6.4 billion to educate the nearly 499,000 students in the public school system. 

What are the students getting for the $6.4 billion? Over half of school funding (53.7% or $7,151 per pupil) goes directly to teachers, aides, paraprofessionals, and classroom materials. Additional monies allow districts  to maintain low pupil‐teacher ratios. Kansas currently ranks 8th with a ratio of one educator to every 11 pupils. For USD 330 Mission Valley approximately 59% of the budget goes directly to instruction, student support services, and instructional support services. 

For another $1,119/pupil Kansas schools provide one student support position (counselors, nurses, speech pathologist) for every 118 students; one instructional support position (librarian, technology staff, reading specialists) for every 160 students; and one building administrator (principal or assistant principal) for every 280 students and/or 25 teachers. 

Kansas spends $900 million in “excess costs” that is not funded by the Federal Government to provide special education services to the approximate 70,000 students in Kansas with disabilities. These services cost on average $8,429 per identified student. 

About 20% of the funding ($2,719/pupil) goes to cover the cost of operations and maintenance (heating, lighting, cooling, cleaning, and security) for school facilities. The $2,719/pupil also includes paying for school construction approved by local voters. Finally, an additional $594/pupil (less than 5%) goes to general district administration and other central office services like payroll and human resources. For USD 330 Mission Valley, 4.4% is Administration costs and 11% for Operations and Maintenance. 7% of the budget is for Capital Improvements. 

How does Kansas compare in funding & student results? Twenty‐nine states provided more total revenue per pupil than Kansas did in 2016. Neighboring and Plains states included North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Nineteen states provided less, including Colorado, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Missouri provided just $24 less than Kansas per pupil. Overall, Kansas is below average in per pupil funding. 

Nationally, Kansas ranks 24th for high school completion, 13th in college attendance, and 19th in 4‐yr degree completion for 18‐24 yr olds. Kansas ranks 23rd in high school graduation rate for both all students and low‐income students, and 5th with students who are limited English proficient and/or disabled. Kansas ranks 13th on national reading and math tests at the basic level and 17th at the proficient level. 

Kansas is in the bottom 25 in education funding but in the TOP 25 in student performance. Imagine what would happen if education funding in the state was adequate??? 

What are parents and communities geƫting? There are approximately 244,000 students in the state of Kansas who receive transportation to and from school each day. This number does not include transportation provided by districts so students can participate in extracurricular activities. The cost of transportation is roughly 4% of total spending. It is estimated that for parents driving students to school, and/or students driving to school, that the annual cost is about $500 per year for a 2.5‐mile round trip. For USD 330 Mission Valley, 7% of the budget is spent on Transportation and 4% on Food Service. 

Another cost savings that is experienced is in the area of food service where the cost for schools to feed students is about $526 per student per year. In addition, schools provide safe environments, counseling, social workers, and structured activity programs. Without school, many families would have significantly higher child care costs, or more unattended children. 2 The money that schools spend is a dollar an employee or business receives as income to help support the local and state economy. Kansas public school employ over 5% of Kansas workers, and pay about 5% of Kansas wages. School districts are often times the biggest, or one of the biggest employers in a city or county. USD 330 Mission Valley has about 120 employees. 

Kansas school districts will spend over $1.5 billion on goods, services, and property each year. The majority of the money spent goes directly into Kansas businesses. Of course, school employee wages also become consumer spending, savings, and investment. The salaries that Kansas school employees earn is taxed not only at the federal level but also at the state level so a significant % of an employees salary goes directly back to the state. 

Schools, such as our own Mission Valley, are often the social hub of their communities. Schools provide recreational, cultural, educational, and athletic activities for students, families and others. Almost every day during the school year there is a school event or community activity occurring at Mission Valley. 

What is Kansas geƫting? Over $13,000 per year is a big investment in each student, however, the payoff is even bigger. The earnings difference between a high school graduate and a high school dropout in Kansas is over $5000 per year; for attending some college up to an associate degree the difference is $9000; for a bachelor’s degree it grows to $23,000 per year; and a graduate or professional degree creates a yearly difference of $34,000. In fact, the estimated lifetime higher earning for students who graduate high school and reach various levels of postsecondary education is almost 3x the cost of education. 

Nationally, Kansas ranks 17th in adults over 25 with a high school diploma or higher, and 14th in adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher. In the region, only Colorado and Minnesota rank higher on both. Kansas also has the 24th highest per capita income and the 21st lowest poverty rate. In the region, only Colorado, Minnesota and North Dakota do better on both. 

As you can see, the $13,100 per pupil invested on Kansas students does produce some very promising results. Funding education in Kansas at the level that is adequate and equitable must remain one of our top priorities in supporting the future of our children. 

Again, I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and are looking forward to a great 2019.

Yours in Education,

Bill Clark, Superintendent