K-12 Education Finance
A guide to understanding the school finance formula
General Description of K-12 Funding Formula
Although there is no simple way to explain the law for funding public K-12 schools in Kansas, a good summary was drafted by the Legislative Division of Post Audit in 2006. After LDPA published this report in January of 2006, the Legislature changed several provisions of the finance formula, including increases to the Base State Aid Per Pupil. The full (and lengthy) report is available online at LDPA K-12 Cost Study, but the following basic description of the funding calculation found on pages 3-4 of the report is still a very helpful overview:
The School District Finance and Quality Performance Act provides the formula for computing State aid for the 300 unified school districts in Kansas. The process for determining the amount of General State Aid each school district will receive from the State is complex, but generally can be described as follows:
- First, the Legislature determines a baseline cost called Base State Aid Per Pupil (BSAPP). For the 2005-06 school year, BSAPP is $4,257.
- Second, what’s often referred to as a foundation-level of funding is determined by multiplying the BSAPP times each district’s “adjusted” enrollment. (Full-time-equivalent (FTE) enrollments in the district are adjusted to recognize and help fund the additional costs districts incur for such things as low enrollment levels and special needs students…) In Kansas, this foundation-level of funding is called State Financial Aid.
- Third, the State’s share of this foundation-level of funding is calculated by subtracting what’s called the “local effort” from the amount computed above. Local effort is the sum of locally generated resources, such as proceeds from the mandatory statewide 20-mill property tax, unexpended and unencumbered balances remaining in a district’s General Fund, certain federal funds, and other miscellaneous local revenues that are available to help finance the district’s educational activities. In Kansas, the State’s share of this foundation-level of funding is called General State Aid.
In addition to the General State Aid a district receives, the law allows local school boards to approve additional spending in the form of a local option budget. The local option budget allows districts to raise money locally for enhancing their educational programs. For 2005-06, each district’s local option budget is limited to 27% of its State Financial Aid amount. State law places a number of restrictions on the adoption of local option budgets.
The State also provides assistance to districts with relatively low assessed valuations per student to help fund districts’ local option budgets and capital outlay and bond and interest expenses. This aid is “equalized,” a term used to recognize that due to varying tax bases in individual school districts, a 1 mill tax levied by one school district may generate a very different amount than a 1 mill tax levy in another district. Although the processes are different for each of these types of aid, essentially what happens is that each district’s assessed valuation per-pupil is ranked high to low, and a certain assessed valuation is established as the standard. Districts with assessed valuation above the standard receive no equalization aid from the State, while those below the standard receive aid to make up the difference between what a mill generates in their district and what a mill generates at the standard level.
For the 2004-05 school year, Kansas school districts received just over $4.4 billion in revenues, or nearly $10,000 per FTE student. Those revenues come primarily from State, local, and federal sources.
[T]he State provides the largest share of those revenues—55%, or an average of nearly $5,500 per student. This amount includes all State sources, not just the General State Aid districts receive. Those additional sources include the amount the State pays to “equalize” funding for districts with relatively low assessed valuations per student, as well as the employers’ share of the KPERS contribution for all school districts.
In response to the Montoy v. Kansas lawsuit, the Legislature enacted a three-year phase-in of additional funding for K-12. The Kansas Department of Education summarized (see chart below) the significant funding components of that reform and estimated the scheduled annual increases.
The amount spent statewide on K-12 education in Kansas is summarized on the following table prepared by the Kansas Department of Education. If you would like to see the same breakdown of federal, state and local funding for your specific school district, the Department of Education website holds the District-by-District Reports which are now current through the 2006-07 school year. Updated financial summaries are traditionally released by December each year.