Deadline for schools to prove they need more money

Kansas Lawmakers (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – Schools can get more money for this year under the so-called Extraordinary Need Fund.

Some schools say they need the money because they have more students in the district.

All schools need to do is apply. A group of eight lawmakers and Governor Sam Brownback will then decide if schools get the cash.

But, four of the eight lawmakers fired off a letter  to the 38 schools that are applying for the money. The letter says schools need to show how they are being more efficient.

“Quite frankly, I’m not sure what to expect,” says Wichita Schools chief finance officer Jim Freeman. “What we’ve been told is that the committee will review the documentation they have been presented and they will ask questions.”

Freeman says Wichita Schools, USD 259, is asking for about $1 million more this year.

“This fiscal year we will probably have somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 to 220 refugees in our buildings that we didn’t have that we didn’t get funded for last year,” explains Freeman.

But, some who follow school funding, say the extraordinary need fund is a political theater.

“It is purely political,” claims Wichita attorney Alan Rupe. “I believe the governor has even said that himself in terms of how the money is to be distributed. So, in terms of people actually demonstrating a need, it’s really a little hypocritical. Because when they (lawmakers) froze the funding (Block Grant Funding) they wiped out a formula that was based on need. The previous formula was based on how much was needed to provide an adequate education.”

Rupe is with a group that has sued the state over what they believe to be a lack of adequate and equitable funding.

Schools say they have done their homework, turned in their assignment to lawmakers and now will travel to Topeka on Monday to ask for more money to educate more students.

“We’ve been able to coordinate and consolidate our professional development,” says Freeman. “We are being efficient.”

KSN’s Craig Andres will be in Topeka on Monday to ask questions of lawmakers, and to ask the governor when the discussion for a new school finance formula will be made public.


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