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Rep. Petty Weighs In On School Funding Issue

KSCB News - March 13, 2014 1:31 pm

There has been a lot of discussion with the current education funding lawsuit that Kansas is underfunding education. However, the numbers prove otherwise.

In Kansas, the average amount of money spent per student is $12,781. That number is at an all-time high.

According to the National Association of Budget Officers, the average state spends 34.7 percent of their state budget on K-12 education. Kansas spends 51 percent. That puts Kansas fourth in the nation in percent allocated to education. If you throw in higher education, Kansas then spends over 60 percent of their state budget on education.

State Representative Reid Petty who used to be the President of the USD 480 Board of Education and sat on the board when USD 480 chose to turn down participating in the lawsuit against the state said school funding has been adequate.

“The media from the left and the state Supreme Court who is made up of Kathleen Sebelius appointees who have the mentality to tax and spend have been effective in trying to create the thought that education funding is somehow lacking. The numbers clearly prove otherwise,” Petty said.

Petty said cherry picking of the numbers has been the biggest myth out there.

“Many like to cherry pick education funding. They like to point out that the state aide per pupil has gone up and down in different years and in years it went down means that education funding went down. The reality is money is sometimes moved around to different categories of spending, but the fact of the matter is the average amount of money spent per student is $12,781, which is at an all-time high. The Supreme Court even agreed in their ruling that money given to KPERS and other areas counts toward educational spending”

Petty recalls being on the Board of Education in Liberal when the board voted to not join the lawsuit.

“The whole board voted to not join the lawsuit. USD 480 was and has been in very good financial shape. They receive a lot of At Risk funding which many other districts don’t get, so USD 480 is not struggling financially to purchase items such as computers. The district currently has computers and IPads in storage even because they have so many.”

Petty said getting the message out there is what is key in the education funding debate.

“There is plenty of money given to education. There is also a lot of mismanagment with how money is spent in education. However, I do agree that we should look into potential different formulas as to how education is funded. I would like to see less state regulations with how money is spent locally. I remember when sitting on the board when there were times that the district had extra money in one area that wasn’t needed that could have been used in another area, but it wasn’t allowed.”

However, given the July 1 deadline to reaching the Supreme Court’s demands won’t allow the state legislature the time to redo the whole formula.

“The court’s decision wasn’t nearly as bad as we expected. We don’t know the total amount of money they want to see us put in, but we know it is very minimal compared to what the seekers of the lawsuit asked for,” Petty said.


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