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Kansas Efficiency Study Says Cut Back School District Savings Accounts

Stephen Koranda

An efficiency study says the state of Kansas could save money by requiring school districts to spend down their cash reserves. That’s an idea some conservatives have been pushing in past years as a way to save money.

The report recommends district savings accounts be limited to 15 percent of their annual budgets. Republican Rep. Ron Ryckman says this provides a range lawmakers can consider.

“I think we’ve been all over the place. In years past we said you need to build up reserves. Then we said hold on, you have too many reserves. If nothing else, this will provide stability,” Ryckman says.

Mark Tallman, with the Kansas Association of School Boards, says schools have kept reserves as a way to help weather financial troubles.

“I don’t think any districts just want to sit on money, but we’ve been through a period of great uncertainty financially in this state going back really to the Great Recession,” Tallman says.

The efficiency study includes around 100 recommendations that, it's believed, could save the state $2 billion over five years.

The recommendations range from centralizing the purchase of some items, to limiting state employees' health insurance options to high-deductible plans. The study also suggests consolidating school district employee benefits into a single pool and reducing the amount of money school districts are allowed to keep in reserve.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.