New block grant keeps Kansas school districts from getting aid

Kansas Legislators passed a new plan for block grant funding last, which freezes school spending for the next two years, and set aside $12.3 million for unanticipated expenses.

As the school year started, 38 school districts applied for additional funds because of increased enrollment. These requests total  $15. 1 million.

In response, the State Finance Council asked each school district to write a letter including five examples of how the district had become more efficient in their spending.

The Kansas City, Kan., School District asked for the largest amount, $2.1 million, after an enrollment increase of 500 students. In their letter, the district claimed that in the past five years, they have cut more than $50 million from their budget. Other area school requesting extraordinary needs funding include Olathe, Spring Hill, Bonner Springs and Piper.

Requests from Olathe and Bonner Springs were denied while Kansas City, Kan. received only half of what they needed, and has had to lay off people because of it.

These are the amounts requested by area school districts and the amounts grants.

School District Extraordinary needs funds requested Amount granted % of Original Request Granted
Basehor-Linwood $358,830 $358.830 100%
Bonner Springs $155,094 $0 0%
Kansas City $2,021,409 $407,548 20%
Olathe $458,501 $0 0%
Piper $239,218 $239,219 100%
Spring Hill $617,985 $617,985 100%

After distributing the money, Gov. Sam Brownback is pleased with the results, but others are not. House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs says politics played a role in how it all played out. The question left now is how much politics is going to affect the state’s education in the future.