Funding Impact on Educational Outcomes In a recent article by Mark Tallman (KS Association of School Boards) he provided the following information‐‐Over the past 28 years educational outcomes generally increased with higher funding and eventually declined when funding became less than the rate of inflation. Kansas school funding has increased more than inflation in the long term but fell behind inflation between 2009 and 2017. Even with additional funding proved last year, 2018 funding is still below 2009 levels. 

By the state’s own calculation in the Gannon case, foundation funding in 2017 was about $500 million less than in 2009, after adjusting for inflation. The “five‐year plan” adopted by the 2018 Legislature was based on adding $500 million over five years to get back adequate or suitable levels in 2009. The Kansas Supreme Court accepted that plan but said the Legislature needs to provide some type of inflation adjustment for the phase‐in period. That adjustment is one of the key focuses of the Legislature in SB 142. 

For the 20 years following 1990 Kansas school funding usually increased every year at a rate higher than inflation but then in the 8 years following 2010 school funding declined until 2018 when the Legislature began adding new funding. How does funding impact both long-and short‐term education outcomes? 

One very important educational result of how funding impacts results are studying educational attainment by looking at the following: 1) Are students completing high school? 2) Are they prepared for and successfully completing postsecondary programs. 

Kansas exceeds the national average in these areas. Since 1990, Kansans over 25 with a high school diploma increased from 81% to 91%. Those with any postsecondary education went from approximately 50% to 66%, and those who successfully completed a 4‐year degree increased from 20% to 33%. 

As long term education funding increased, long‐term education outcomes in Kansas improved to all‐time high marks during the past three decades. Shorter-term measures, like state and national assessment and ACT rates, were also rising during the late 2000’s as funding peaked in 2009. Within three years of 2009, state assessments and the National Assessment of Educational Progress results were declining. Graduation rates have continued to rise since 2009, but growth was minimal between 2012 and 2016. 

History tells us that school districts used the additional funding to keep salaries competitive for employees teaching, supporting students and leading schools; to provide more help for students who are struggling; to keep students safe and healthy so they can learn, and to better prepare them for further education after high school. Those are the same goals districts have for additional funding now. 

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Have a great Spring and the remainder of the school year.

Yours in Education,

Bill Clark, Superintendent