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Kansas Senate Considering Bill Setting Cap On School District Savings Accounts

Stephen Koranda
KPR/File photo

A Kansas Senate committee is considering a bill that would require some school districts to spend down part of their savings accounts. If districts have reserves that are too large, this bill would force them to use some of the saved money.

Former Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal supports the bill. He told a committee that money sitting in district reserve funds isn’t doing students any good.

“You thought when you were appropriating the funds you were appropriating them so Johnny and Susie could get an education, not for individuals to build up reserves to invest,” O’Neal says.

David Smith, with Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, says at times his district has had significant reserves because they were saving up to build a new school. He says the bill doesn’t take into account why schools might have reserves.

“The money was there for very specific purposes. Unfortunately, this is a very blunt object, this bill, without any of the understanding of the nuances of how districts operate,” Smith says.

The legislation was proposed following an efficiency study that examined the state's spending.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.