From Melika Willoughby, Deputy Communications Director for Governor Sam Brownback, the administration’s views on school funding in Kansas.
Kansas children across the state returned to school this month. Editorial boards and union leaders would have you believe the schools are starving due to lack of funding. Reality shatters this false narrative.
Despite all of the bombastic talk, Kansas schools are well funded. Elementary students in Tonganoxie filled the halls of a new state-of-the-art facility featuring three music rooms, two gyms, an abundance of classrooms. High schoolers in Osage County will perform in a new fine arts facility this year, housing a theater to seat 500 audience members. Shawnee Mission broke ground this week on the first of six new buildings, and freshmen at Wichita’s Southeast High School will graduate in four years from a beautiful new high school.
The innovative spirit and passion of Kansas teachers make our schools among the best in the country. Their dedication deserves recognition. Along with others districts, Auburn-Washburn, Fairfield, and Topeka were each able to increase teacher pay. One-to-one technology initiatives are also helping teachers prepare our students for the 21st century workforce with ease—Girard with iPads and McPherson with Chromebooks.
Governor Brownback’s block grant funding that provided an historic $4 billion to Kansas schools gave districts the freedom to decide what investments would best serve their students. The block grant also established a new recourse of action for districts facing unexpected challenges. Just this week the State Finance Council, headed by Governor Brownback, gave more than $6 million in additional funding to districts statewide. Each of the 22 districts applying because of decreased property valuation (primarily resulting from lower oil and gas prices across the nation) received additional funding. Under the old, broken formula, districts would not have received immediate extra state funding. Thirteen districts applying due to enrollment increases also received immediate additional funding.
Kansas students are back in classrooms prepared to learn, and our districts have the resources they need to teach them.
Deputy Communications Director
Office of Governor Sam Brownback