It only took a few minutes for the Kansas State Board of Education to approve $7.2 million in extraordinary needs funding for school districts across the state. The extra money will go to 34 school districts. Three districts didn't get any money.
The six local districts who applied for the additional state aid didn't get all they wanted but still did well.
The Spring Hill district in Johnson County made the biggest request of any district in Kansas; $941,440. The state Board approved all but $92,860. Spring Hill Superintendent Wayne Burke says he anticipates adding 1,500 students in the next five years. For the school year that starts in a couple of weeks, Spring Hill has hired six new teachers and added two bus routes.
Basehor-Linwood, another small but growing district, asked for $479,102 and was granted all but $42,000. Superintendent David Howard says he is "absolutely" happy with the result.
Basehor-Linwood has added seven teachers and two bus routes for the coming year, according to Howard.
Four other area districts will also receive extraordinary needs money.
- The Piper School District was granted the entire $120,000 it requested to pay for two more teachers.
- Bonner Springs was granted its request for $166,000 to hire three teachers.
- Gardner-Edgerton will get its request for $300,000 to hire six new teachers.
- Eudora will get its request for $100,000 to hire two new teachers.
Originally, 37 districts asked for $8.4 million in additional aid. The board did not comment on why some requests were cut and some denied. Pretty Prairie, North Jackson and Neodesha received no additional aid.
But there's a catch. While there is a $15 million extraordinary needs pool, some of that money might be needed to fulfill a state settlement to fix the equity portion of a school funding lawsuit.
Under legislation passed in a special session, lawmakers hope to use the proceeds from the sale of the state Bioscience Authority to pay for most of the $38 million settlement. But if the sale doesn't fetch that much, money will be taken from the extraordinary needs pool.
“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,” says Board of Education member Jim Porter.
The state hopes to complete the Bioscience Authority sale over the next few months.
Sam Zeff is co-host of the political podcast Statehouse Blend and covers education for KCUR, which is a partner in a statewide collaboration covering elections in Kansas. Follow Sam on Twitter @SamZeff.