Transitioning to the block grant system of funding schools has proved to be difficult for schools across the state. Earlier this year when districts published their budgets in local newspapers, it may have looked like schools were receiving more money because their general funds have amounts larger than they had last year. However, they are not.
What has happened is money that had been designated in other funds has been moved straight to the general fund while the expenses those funds were originally designated for, remain. It also includes KPERS payments, which are immediately transferred back to the state. Additionally, the Kansas Legislature reversed its action from the 2014 session and cut the amount of state aid districts are receiving for capital outlay and local option budgets, despite the equity portion of the court order. This amounted to more than $50 million.
School districts have to operate the next two years on the same amount of money that was allocated to them during the 2014-2015 school year; they do not receive any additional funding regardless of enrollment levels or special needs of students. As a result, district have been left with no choice but to make difficult cuts to their budgets or raise taxes and/or fees to ensure they have enough money to operate while still providing Kansas children with a high quality education.