Reactions Vary on Kansas School Funding Appeals
Kansas school district officials are blaming the state’s new “block grant” funding system for acute financial problems in dozens of districts. Thirty-eight Kansas school districts are requesting millions in additional money to address local budget problems. Scott Rothschild of the Kansas Association of School Boards says the block grant system offers no flexibility to cover unexpected changes such as increased enrollment or a drop in property tax revenue. "We have a large system with hundreds of thousands of students and lots of property valuations," Rothschild said. "All of that fluctuates but the block grant doesn't." But Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute, a well-known conservative advocacy group, defends the block grants. He says districts aren’t doing enough to look for administrative inefficiencies and find savings. "This is supposed to be for extraordinary needs," Trabert said. "So if there are things that you could do to reduce costs but choose not to, you don't have a need, you have a want." A committee headed by Governor Brownback will meet Monday to consider $15 million in emergency funding requests, although the state only has about $12 million available.