The Kansas Board of Education has approved more than $7 million in additional funding for more than 30 school districts, but there’s a catch.
The money hinges on the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority. If the KBA sells for less than anticipated, then the so-called extraordinary needs money won’t be available.
Board of Education Member Jim Porter says they are warning districts about spending the money.
“They don’t need to put themselves in the position to spend the money we just approved until they actually get it,” says Porter.
Most of the districts are asking for funding to help pay for student enrollment growth or replace local tax money lost when property values declined.
The block grant system for education put in place last year doesn’t account for student growth or other changes, but it allows districts to ask for additional money. This year, Kansas lawmakers tied the extraordinary needs funding to the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority as part of a larger school funding plan.
Basehor-Linwood Superintendent David Howard submitted a request for almost a half million dollars to pay for bus routes, equipment and staff.
“Basehor-Linwood’s really a growing school district. We were up 79 students last year. We expect we’ll be up approximately 90 this year. We had to hire an additional 7 teachers,” says Howard.
The board approved funding for most of his request. The old school finance formula automatically adjusted funding when student enrollment grew.
This is the first time the Board of Education has handled the so-called extraordinary needs requests. Last year the requests were considered by a panel made up of lawmakers and the governor. Howard calls the new process an improvement.
"We actually had people in that room yesterday that know school finance, and I believe that was the major difference between this year and last year," says Howard.
Stephen Koranda has more on the story: