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Kansas Board Of Education Approves Additional Funding For Schools, With A Catch

The Kansas Board of Education has approved more than $7 million in additional funding for 34 school districts, but there’s a catch. As Stephen Koranda reports, the money might never materialize.

The block grant funding system in Kansas doesn’t take into account things like student enrollment growth, but it lets officials like Basehor-Linwood Superintendent David Howard ask for more money to cover new students.

“This isn’t just teachers. We’re actually having to add bus routes and equip new classrooms. That’s part of that total request,” Howard said.

Howard’s district was awarded more than $400,000.

Wichita Public Schools asked for more than $686,000 to help cover an influx of refugee students. The district reported in its request for additional funds that it enrolled 83 refugee students since Nov. 1, 2015, and is anticipating another 50 students before Sept. 20. "Educational and social needs of these students are far beyond that of a regular student," the district said.

But this year, lawmakers tied the extraordinary needs funding to the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority. If the KBA sells for less than expected, then the extraordinary needs funding will be reduced. Board of Ed Member Jim Porter said they are warning districts about spending the money.

"That’s why we were so careful about making sure that everybody understood that they don’t need to put themselves in the position to spend the money we just approved until they actually get it,” Porter said.

The sale of the KBA could be completed by the end of the year.

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.