Kansas schools could receive $575 million in federal stimulus funds

Kansas public schools could get upwards of $575 million in federal stimulus funds over two years, officials said Wednesday.

The question now: Will that be enough for schools to avoid budget cuts in the next school year.

“This is a very positive sign but I don’t think schools can completely breathe a sigh of relief,” said Mark Tallman, a lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Because of lagging state tax revenues, some legislators have talked of the need to cut schools by 10 percent or more in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

But the federal stimulus plan approved by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama will funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to Kansas schools.

“On a program this large, I don’t recall it ever happening this fast,” said Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis.

Dennis outlined the amount that Kansas will get under the new law.

It includes $106.9 million for special education and $93 million for schools with large numbers of low-income students.

There is also a stabilization fund of $367.4 million that can be used for public schools and higher education. In addition there are smaller amounts for various other programs.

State Sen. Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, and chair of the Senate Education Committee, said receiving the federal funds in a timely manner may avoid school layoffs.

Sebelius has said she will provide a revised budget to lawmakers by the end of the week to take into account some of the new federal stimulus monies.

In addition to the education funds, the state will receive $440 million in additional federal monies for Medicaid.