Sound Off

Sound Off: School money

Over a year ago the Kansas State Board of Education found that the Lawrence school district had retained far too much money in the district’s contingency fund. What was the exact dollar amount of that overage? The state mandated that those funds be spent. Has this money been spent? If so, how exactly was the money spent?

The amount of money a district is allowed to hold in a contingency reserve fund is set by statute. The Kansas State Board of Education has no role in regulating that amount. According to information provided by the Lawrence school district, the cap has been set at 10 percent of the district’s general fund expenditures since Fiscal Year 2009. That law had a sunset provision, meaning if the law had not been renewed, the cap would have reverted to 6 percent of expenditures. In 2011, the Kansas Legislature allowed the sunset to expire, meaning the Lawrence school district would have had to spend down about $3 million from its contingency reserve fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012. However, midway through the fiscal year, the 2012 Legislature reversed that decision and passed a bill permanently setting the cap at 10 percent. For the current fiscal year, the district has budgeted to end the year with $6.6 million in its contingency reserve fund, which is 9.966 percent of its budgeted general fund expenditures for the year.

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 2 years, 5 months ago

Look at my blog on the subject:

http://www2.ljworld.com/weblogs/kansas-150th-birthday-is-almost-over/2013/feb/3/where-did-the-money-for-kansas-schools-g/

How about some information on this, as well? I can't find out what happened to Kansas school money? Maybe other people know.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 5 months ago

Considering the state legislature and the governor do not obey state law it is not a bad idea to keep that money available.

buffalo63 2 years, 5 months ago

Didn't answer the main question: Was the money spent and how was it spent? Another question: Are there requirements/restrictions on what/how the money can be spent?

Katara 2 years, 5 months ago

It did answer the question. The district had 10% as mandated by the Legislature. The Legislature let that 10% requirement expire so it reverted back to 6% meaning that the district had to spend down $3 million but before the deadline to spend down that money came about, the Legislature decided to make the 10% mandate permanent.

Your other question is a good one. From what I have been reading, it looks as if the money is used to cover bills that are due while the district is waiting for state funding. Kansas doesn't seem to be the only state late on their education funding to the schools, too.

Given the hostility our current Legislators show toward education, I would prefer that the district keep the contingency fund untouched until absolutely needed to continue to provide an education for our kids.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 5 months ago

I have a lot of faith in a majority of this school board. Been a long while since I could say that.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years, 5 months ago

We also need a full listing of real property owned by the district. Land that has been purchased I'll bet is not listed in this reserve fund and is one of the places the district can hide money. Creative accounting practices abound.

texburgh 2 years, 5 months ago

Not only that but they spent $16,434 on dues and fees to the Kansas Association of School Boards in 2012. (Kansasopengov.org) KASB in turn - using this money - supported the Governor's latest tax bill including the repeal of the home mortgage interest deduction and the deduction for property taxes paid. If your mill levy goes up for schools, KASB says you should not be allowed income tax deductions to help you out? How is that $16,434 a wise expenditure of our tax money?

Tracy Rogers 2 years, 5 months ago

If you want your local board members, as well as your administrators, district lawyers, board clerks, to know what's going on in the education field and legislature...$16,434 is a bargain for what KASB provides. They provide numerous training sessions, webinars, updates, etc.

buffalo63 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes, and KNEA does the same thing for teachers! What recourse do I have of the use of USD 497 dues by the KASB to support legislation that would harm my freedom and liberties, ie home mortgage deduction. Can't limit KNEA while allowing KASB money to influence legislation or elections.

Tracy Rogers 2 years, 5 months ago

No one is limiting KNEA are they? Teachers can still join and pay dues by writing a check.

buffalo63 2 years, 5 months ago

Part of the bill limits public employee unions (KNEA is one) from spending money on campaign candidates and political issues.

weeslicket 2 years, 5 months ago

i'm glad you are concerned1. yes, the kansas government IS DEFINITELY trying to limit knea, and police, and firefighters, and anyone else who serves the public. from HB2023 i submit the following:

(c) For the purposes of this section, "political activities" means any activity carried out for the purpose of influencing, in whole or part, any election for a state, local government or board of education office, including activities or causes of a partisan political or ideological nature engaged in by a public employee organization for such purpose, and including contributions to a political committee, continuing political employee committee, or both, for the purpose of aiding or promoting the endorsement, nomination, election or defeat of a candidate for public office of the state or of a county, municipality or school district, or the passage or defeat of any public question.

and

(d) (1) It shall be a prohibited practice for a public employee organization to endorse candidates, or spend any of its income, directly or indirectly, for partisan or political purposes or engage in any kind of activity advocating or opposing the election of candidates for any public officeincluding any income in the form of or derived from any dues, fees, assessments or any other periodic payments, directly or indirectly, to engage in political activities as defined in paragraph (2). (2) For the purposes of this section, "political activities" means any activity carried out for the purpose of influencing, in whole or part, any election for a state, local government or board of education office, including activities or causes of a partisan political or ideological nature engaged in by a public employee organization for such purpose, and including contributions to a political committee, continuing political employee committee, or both, for the purpose of aiding or promoting the endorsement, nomination, election or defeat of any candidate for public office of the state or of a county, municipality or school district, or the passage or defeat of any public question.

William Ed 2 years, 5 months ago

Cant have it both ways, etal. Accounting? Seems like really brilliant financial management to hold $6 Million in a bank, drawing at best 1% intersest and paying the local bank 4.6% on the "loan" still outstanding for the stadium fiasco. Maybe the equally ineffective finance committee should help the administration out.

Gary Denning 2 years, 5 months ago

If they pay out the $6 M by making an extra payment on a debt how will the school district pay its bills the next time the State is late with its payments to school districts? Some savings is also necessary because some school expenses must be paid before the feds send the money to the school districts.

William Ed 2 years, 5 months ago

Banks have what they call "line of credit,' or they could put it on their credit card. They had no problem getting a $9 Million loan for the stadium when they suddenly needed it.

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