Public education in Kansas
The Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) has a self proclaimed mission to promote the mission of the Kansas State Board of Education through leadership and guidance.
Dr. Alexa Posny is currently the Commissioner of Education. Previous to her appointment to KSDE, Dr. Posny was the director of the Office of Special Education for the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. and had also held various positions with KSDE. She was appointed in 2007 and took office July 1 of that year.
The Kansas Department of education just recently launched a new website that contains extensive data and budget information on each of Kansas' school districts.
According to the KSDE website, they want to make data, information, and documents more readily available to the public because "education technology is very important...we have a massive challenge in public schools".
Deputy Commissioner of the KDOE Dale Dennis says Kansas school districts have a shortfall of about $100 million for the current 2010 fiscal year.
However, across the state school districts had $175.7 million in their contingency reserve funds at the beginning of fiscal year 2010. Dennis says those taxpayers’ dollars can be used to cover the shortfall, but once districts spend that money it’s gone.
Going into FY 2010, school districts had a total of $1.5 billion in unencumbered cash, $128 million more than the $1.36 billion they had going into 2009. If one subtracts balances in funds set aside for capital outlay and debt service, districts still had $699 million in unencumbered operating funds going into 2010. This is a 53 percent increase over the previous year.
Dennis said the balances grew because districts anticipated further legislative cuts.
“That’s responsible governing by their school boards,” said Rep. Jason Watkins (R-Wichita), vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. The committee asked districts during the 2009 Legislative session to do everything they could to build up their contingency reserve funds, Watkins said to Kansas Watchdog.
The $100 million Dennis forecasts spread evenly across all districts amounts to about $222 per student. Out of the state's 293 districts, only 64 do not have more than that amount in their contingency reserve fund. When all other operating funds are included, all but seven districts had sufficient cash as of July 1 to cover the shortage.
There is enough money in the contingency funds statewide, but some districts have higher balances than others and some have zero balances.
State Board of Education
The Kansas State Board of Education's purpose is to provide leadership and governance to local boards and districts in their jurisdiction under the pretenses of increasing academic achievement.