Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Evidence shows Kansas schools are organized and operated efficiently to produce high student outcomes.

This post is from a report on school finance released by KASB as the Kansas Legislature works to develop a new school finance plan in compliance with the Kansas Supreme Court decision on adequate funding. Today: contrary to claims that Kansas schools are administratively top-heavy, Kansas compares well to the highest achieving states in the nation.

Rather than increase funding, some policy-makers and advocates suggest that districts could cut administrative overhead and redirect funding to achieve better results. Evidence indicates that Kansas is already following best practices for staffing and organization.

A. Kansas school district spending on superintendent salaries and “back office” costs are minimal.

Total Kansas superintendent salaries were $31 million last year, or 0.5 percent of total expenditures. Expenditures for all central office and districts administration function – including “back office” functions like payroll, human resources, etc. – are $266 million, or 4.4 percent of expenditures. Even a significant reduction in those areas would not result in major changes in other areas.

B. High achieving states have more teachers, more support staff, more administration, smaller schools and smaller districts. Low achieving states are the opposite.

Federal data from the Digest of Education Statistics indicate that not only do the highest achieving states spend more pupil, they have many more employees per 1,000 students, including administrative staff.

The highest achieving states have 160.7 staff positions per 1,000 student, and 6.3 are in district administration. Kansas has 143 staff per 1,000 students, but just 3.8 are in district administration – less than the national average.

The highest achieving states have more teaching positions than Kansas, but Kansas provides about the same percentage of these positions, and has more instructional positions than the national average or the lowest achieving states. Kansas also has more principals and student/teacher support positions (such as librarians, counselors, nurses, etc.) than the national average and lowest achieving states.
In addition, national data shows that the highest achieving states have smaller school district size and smaller average school size than the national average and lowest achieving states.

KASB research on Kansas assessments confirms national studies that smaller school size has a positive correlation with student outcomes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Specific ways school districts will use additional funding to improve student success.

This post is from a report on school finance released by KASB as the Kansas Legislature works to develop a new school finance plan in compliance with the Kansas Supreme Court decision on adequate funding. Today: how increased funding would be used to improve student success.

Although each district’s needs and circumstances will be different, the general uses of new funding is clear, based on conversations KASB held with school leaders this year and how districts used additional resources after Montoy decision. Targets for new funding would likely include:

Add/restore positions to keep low class size and improve services

Restore certified (mostly teacher) positions reduced since 2009;
1,000 times average teacher salary of $55,454 $55.6 million

Restore non-certified positions (aide, para, etc.) reduced since 2009;
1,000 FTE positions times estimated salary of $35,000 $35.0 million

Expand preschool to meet State Board goal of kindergarten readiness

Double pre-K teachers to double preschool enrollment;
580 positions times average teacher salary of $55,454 $32.2 million

Increase services to meet career planning and social/emotional needs
Increase school counselor and social worker positions (currently
approximately 1,500) by 50 percent; 750 positions times average
teacher salary of $55,454 $41.6 million

Add services for students not meeting standards

Provide intensive services to students below grade level in reading or math
(such as Reading Roadmap) at average cost of $1,000 per student
to all students below grade level (25% x 462,595 = 115,649) $115.7 million

Provide intensive services to students below college ready at average cost
of $1,000 per student (38% x 462,595 = $175.8) $175.8 million

Provide Jobs for America’s Graduates services (or similar) at average
cost of $1,230 for 40 percent of students grades 9-12 based on risk
factors (56,000) $68.8 million

Restore salary levels to keep Kansas school positions competitive

Inflationary adjustment for teacher salaries 2009 to 2016
Average teacher salary in 2009: $52,712 times inflation increase
of 11.9% Equals $58,985 minus 2016 actual of $55,454 ($3,531)
x 35,882 teachers $127 million

Comparable increase for all other district staff members $127 million

Total funding increase: $778.7 million

Other benefits of increased funding:

With higher salaries, increase school year for students, which has been reduced by approximately one week as districts negotiated fewer days under limited salary increases.

Reduce student fees, which have increased significantly in some districts for activities, early childhood and transportation.

Reduce property tax reliance, which has increased as districts used more local option budget funding with frozen base state aid.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The school finance plan developed by the House K-12 committee plan is sound; the amount of funding is justified but will be eroded the longer it is spread out

This post is from a report on school finance released by KASB as the Kansas Legislature works to develop a new school finance plan in compliance with the Kansas Supreme Court decision on adequate funding. Today: how the plan developed by the House K-12 Committee measures up in structure, and evidence to support the amount of new funding.

The structure of the House K-12 Committee plan is constitutionally sound, supported by evidence and addresses public concerns.

After two years of research, statewide input from school leaders and collaboration with other organizations, KASB adopted a set of school finance recommendations called Putting Students First. The proposed House committee plan meets most of those goals.

A. The plan includes three key component of school finance: per pupil funding, adjustments for different costs and equalized local flexibility.

It would return Kansas to a modified foundation formula used by all nine higher achieving states; and sets a higher foundational amount per student, although phased in over five years.
It restores weighting factors previously acceptable to Kansas Supreme Court, based on previous cost studies.

It authorizes local options for funding operating and building costs equalized at levels previously found acceptable by the court. The increases in base state aid will allow increased use of the proposed Local Foundation Budget.

B. The plan directs significant additional funding to lower performing students and to help more students reach higher levels.

Approximately 30 percent weighted enrollment under the plan would be for bilingual, at-risk and vocational weightings, so 30 percent “foundation” increases would go to those programs. In addition, the bill would expand funding for at-risk preschool by $2 million per year for five years.

The bill would fund students in all day kindergarten programs as full-time students, which many districts currently fund through at-risk weighting; which would allow funding to be directed at additional at-risk programs.

Foundation funding increases would allow schools to provide low class size, which is critical for helping at-risk students; restore or add teachers in high need area; and provide compensation to attract and retain quality staff, after Kansas teacher salaries have lagged behind inflation and declined in national ranking since 2008.

The plan would restore funding for two critical programs to improve instruction and promote innovative practices: teacher professional development and new teacher mentoring.

C. The plan bases accountability on meaningful measures of student success.

The bill provides accountability through the new accreditation system being implemented by the State Board of Education under the Kansans Can initiative. The effort is based on two years of public hearings, employer and higher education input and development by education leaders.
The new system has five outcomes: kindergarten readiness, individual career-based plans of study, social and emotional factors measured locally, higher graduation rates and higher postsecondary participation. The system will track student participation in technology and academic programs for two years after high school.

The amount of funding in the plan is justified by evidence, but this would be eroded the longer it takes to be fully implemented.

The Kansas Supreme Court did not order a specific total amount of funding; however, there are a number of indicators to suggest a range of funding levels required to provide “suitable” finance for educational improvement and student success.

A. Inflation since the funding was found constitutional under the Montoy decision and Legislative remedy.

The Kansas Supreme Court approved a three-year plan to provide suitable funding by 2009. Total school district funding in 2016 was about $525 million below 2009 levels when adjusted for inflation, and general operating funds (general fund, local option budget and special education aid) are over $600 million below. The House Committee plan provides a total of over $750 million, but would not be fully implemented for five years.

B. Previous rates of Kansas funding associated with educational improvement.

Rate of growth. Since 1990, school funding increased an average of approximately two percent more than inflation, over which time Kansas educational outcomes improved significantly. It would require an additional $162 million in general fund, LOB and special education to provide this rate of increase over the next two years. The House Committee plan would provide annual increases of approximately $150 million in general funding and special education aid per year for five years, plus additional authority for the local option budget as the foundation level increases.

Percentage of personal income. From 1975 to 2010, total school district funding in Kansas averaged 4.54 percent of state personal income. Based on the Kansas Consensus Revenue Estimate of state income growth, Kansas personal income will be $146.6 billion in 2017 and $152.3 billion in 2018. Providing total K-12 funding of 4.45 percent would equal $6.61 billion for 2017 and $6.914 for 2018, compared to $6.021 in 2016; or an increase of $590 million for 2017 and a further $300 million for 2018 – a two-year total of about $900 million. The House Committee plan would provide $750 million over five years.

C. States that have higher levels of overall student success.

After adjusting for regional cost differences, states that perform better than Kansas on 15 educational measures spent $2,855 more per pupil than Kansas in 2014, equal to over $1.3 billion more. The Midwestern states that outrank Kansas spend $1,407 more per pupil than Kansas, equal to $650.9 million more than Kansas. If Kansas funding had increased at the same rate as higher achieving states since 2008, total funding would be $1,385, or $640.7 million, higher.

D. Recommendations of the State Board of Education.

The State Board of Education, which seeks to implement the Kansans Can vision of preparing each student for success consistent with the Rose Capacities, has proposed a total increase of $893.5 million. Most of this money would increase the previous base state aid per pupil. It would also fund special education aid at the statutory level, and fund teacher mentoring and professional development.