Kansas school spending on administration much higher than reported

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From Kansas Policy Institute.

School spending on administration much higher than reported

By Dave Trabert

Researchers at Kansas Policy Institute recently found that the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) reported nearly $1 billion in administrative spending as “Other” over the last eight years.  The KSDE Accounting Handbook identifies three categories of administrative costs: General Administration, School Administration and Central Services.  District budget reports only list General and School Administration; Central Services, which includes fiscal services, human resources, IT, purchasing and other ‘back office’ functions has historically been reported as “Other.”

District budget reports for 2012 reported actual spending of $391.6 million on Administration but total spending on Administration was really $525.4 million.

The following screen grab is from the Budget at a Glance for USD 500 Kansas City.  KSDE Deputy Commission Dale Dennis confirmed that the amounts listed as Other Costs on KSDE budget forms are actually Central Services and should be counted as Administrative spending.  Mr. Dennis says these forms will be revised next year to clearly identify spending on Central Services; hopefully, they will also specify that Central Services are Administrative costs.

The KSDE Accounting Handbook defines Other services (Function 2900) as “All other support services not classified elsewhere in the 2000 series.”  Central Services costs are clearly identified in Function 2500.  Interestingly, the KSDE public database did properly reflect Central Services spending through 2008 (and zero spending in Function 2900 Other).  Beginning in 2009, the database showed no spending in Central Services and reflected those costs as “Other.”  KSDE corrected their internal records following our inquiry.

Regardless of intention, the KSDE budget forms have historically given citizens false impressions.  As shown in the example above, a reader would logically believe that USD 500 reduced total administrative spending in 2013 by 9.4%, when in reality spending increased by 8.2%.