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State Panel Approves Additional Funding for Kansas School Districts

A panel of state lawmakers has approved $4.2 million in emergency aid for 25 public school districts who requested additional funds for a variety of reasons.

The Wichita district sought $980,000 for additional teachers and classroom aides for an influx of refugee children. The panel approved less than half that amount. Diane Gjerstad, who works for the Wichita school district, says they're trying to educate nearly 100 new refugee students.  

“We’ll be able to hire some additional teachers and para-professionals to work with our kids and help them on their pathway to being successful,” says Gjerstad.
Some lawmakers were frustrated that the federal government isn’t helping to pay for the refugee students. An official with the Department for Children and Families says Kansas missed a deadline to apply for federal funding, but the state can apply for the assistance next year.    

A panel of state officials has approved more than $4 million in emergency aid for 25 Kansas school districts that requested the additional funding. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the money was mostly provided to districts with enrollment growth or falling property values.

The panel approved $400,000 for Kansas districts with growing student populations and more than $350,000 for Wichita Public Schools to help educate refugee students. That district has nearly 100 new refugees from Africa and Asia. Diane Gjerstad (JUR-stad), with the Wichita district, says some of those students have had little formal education.

“We know we need to serve these students to give them intensive language supports because they’re going to be citizens of our country and we want them to be very successful,” says Gjerstad.

The extra money is significantly less than the districts had requested.

The state’s block grant system for schools doesn’t take into account variables like student enrollment, which is why the extraordinary needs funding is available.

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