Audit: Kansas schools get millions in unauthorized aid
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An audit has found that the largest school districts in Kansas have received millions in funding not allowed by state law.
The audit report released last week found the Kansas State Department of Education is distributing transportation funds to school districts using a method repealed by lawmakers in the 1970s. The method results in districts with the highest population densities receiving more aid, the Wichita Eagle reported .
The department has given more than $45 million to the districts in just the past five years to help bus students to school, according to the report. The unauthorized aid provides nearly half the transportation aid for a handful of districts. State auditors estimated Wichita’s district alone will get nearly $3 million more than legally allowed.
The state uses a formula to determine transportation funding for all school districts. But the unauthorized payments that high-density districts have received, known as the minimum funding level, are outside that formula.
“KSDE officials told us they were aware that a minimum funding level for high-density districts was not part of the funding formula. However, they maintained the minimum at the request many years ago of several legislators to provide additional funding to large, high-density school districts,” the report said. “Although this request may have been made, state law does not allow for it.”
Department officials said they began making the payments decades ago after a request from lawmakers.
“We were told to do this by the legislative body about 30 years ago,” said Dale Dennis, deputy education commissioner.
The report recommends the department remove the unauthorized aid beginning in the 2018-19 school year. Auditors also recommended that lawmakers review whether a minimum funding level should be placed into law.
In a Dec. 1 letter in response to the audit, the department didn’t say whether it will follow the audit’s recommendation but said placing the minimum funding level in law would be a “good idea.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com