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.

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