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Kansas Punching Above Its Weight – Lower Funding, Higher Student Outcomes


TOPEKA, Kan. ( – KASB has posted a new report on K-12 education funding and outcomes in Kansas and other states.

Kansas continues to lag behind the U.S. average in per-pupil funding.

Despite increasing state aid under the first four years of the Gannon school finance plan, Kansas per pupil funding is over 10 percent below the U.S. average.

Kansas rose compared to the U.S. average from 2005 to 2009, when state funding was increased in response to the Montoy school finance decision but dropped during eight years of tax and budget cuts. The Gannon funding plan has so far stabilized funding but has not increased Kansas compared to other states.

 Kansas Total Revenue Per k-12 Pupil as % of US Average

Although Kansas has been increasing per-pupil funding, other states have increased faster. All states cut inflation-adjusted funding after the Great Recession in 2009. The national and regional average recovered to 2009 levels in 2014, but Kansas didn’t recover until 2020.

Total K-12 Funding Per Pupil, Adjusted for Inflation

Kansas funds schools at about the same rate as the average of states in the region but most states increased funding more over the last decade.

Every state except Oklahoma has increased per pupil funding MORE than Kansas since 2009.

Kansas, Neighboring and Plain Region States - K-12 Total Revenue Per Pupil

Comparing Kansas per-pupil funding to state and national averages helps show if Kansas is financially competitive with other states.

The Kansas Supreme Court and the Legislature have agreed that Kansas students should be able to “compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states, in academics or the job market.” Per-pupil funding affects how states can compete based on salaries, class size, and the range of academic and student support programs.

On average, states with the highest education outcomes have the highest per-pupil funding and states with the lowest outcomes have the lowest.

The states with the highest education outcomes spend more than those with lower outcomes. Based on a weighted average of 16 educational outcomes, the top 10 states averaged over $21,000 per pupil in 2021. Average funding falls for each group of states based on outcomes.

Despite per-pupil spending below the national average, Kansas has high overall education outcomes – but its performance ranking has fallen along with its funding rank.

Although Kansas’s 2021 total revenue per pupil ranked 28th out of 50 states and 11 percent below the U.S. average, Kansas ranked 13th on a weighted average of 16 educational outcomes.

That is a decline from a decade ago when Kansas ranked 6th and per-pupil funding ranked 23rd.

 Kansas and Average Total Funding Per Pupil 2021 - States Ranked by Education Outcomes

Kansas provides more state funding than the U.S. average, but its school districts receive much less local and federal aid, so total funding is lower.

Kansas provides over $3,000 more per pupil in direct state aid than the U.S. average, but districts receive nearly $4,000 less in local revenues and about $500 less in federal aid. As a result, total funding is $2,000 below the U.S. average, despite higher state aid. A large part of the increase in state funding over the past 20-30 years has been to reduce property taxes, not increase funding.

 Total Revenue Per Pupil by Funding Source, 2021

To read more on this topic, read the full report here.