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Special Education Shortfall is Shortchanging Kansas Districts and Kids

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By the Kansas Association of School Boards

 

KANSAS — During the 2022-2023 school year, Kansas districts spent a total of $382M to cover significant shortfalls in special education funding.

Over the past few days, KASB’s team evaluated extensive data from the Kansas Department of Education to determine how the special education shortfall is affecting local district operations.

“Listening to our members across the state, special education funding is consistently one of their biggest concerns,” said KASB Executive Director Dr. Brian Jordan. That’s why it was a key point of KASB’s 2024 Legislative Policy, which our members approved at Delegate Assembly last November.”

Jordan said even he was surprised by the magnitude of the dollar figures and what that means for local district operations. Breaking down the statewide numbers from the 2022-2023 school year, KASB found that the largest 16 districts in the state, which serve 48% of Kansas public-school students, were forced to transfer $226M from general funds to cover special education expenses.

KASB School List

The remaining 270 districts in the state transferred $156M. These smaller districts have an average enrollment of 956 students and were forced to transfer $570,000 on average in that one year.

“It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out how a district with a few hundred kids is hurt by such a shortfall. Transferring a half million dollars out of funds that help all students — special and regular education — to cover the costs of special education takes away support and opportunities for all kids,” Jordan said.

KASB remains committed to working with all state and federal lawmakers to fully fund the state and federal obligations to special education funding as the law prescribes. KASB President TinaRae Scott is a member of the Morris County USD 417 Board of Education and an advocate for the needs of rural Kansas communities.

“Fully funded special education isn’t just about meeting the needs of some students; it’s about ensuring every child in Kansas receives the best education possible,” she said. “When funds are redirected from vital areas to address special education expenses, it affects every child in every school in every district in Kansas. Prioritizing fully funded special education ensures that each student receives the individualized services necessary for their greatest chance at success.”

Click to view all statewide data from KASB’s report.

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