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Pittsburg Schools Back in Session Under New State Funding System - KOAM TV 7

Pittsburg Schools Back in Session Under New State Funding System: Less Money

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 Changes to how education is funded in Kansas has schools asking the state for more money.  A state finance committee just  allotted six million dollars to twenty-two districts from an extraordinary need fund.

     Pittsburg originally applied but rules changed and it didn't qualify.

Now the new funding system has Pittsburg struggling to understand the funding system and survive on less.

School is back in session. Under the old Kansas education funding formula, districts like Pittsburg received about thirty-eight hundred dollars per student.  Now it gets a set amount for all students under a block grant system.

  Superintendent Destry Brown says, "If we have fewer  students, if we have more students,  we got the same amount of money in our block that we got last year."

The state created the extraordinary need fund for districts who's allotment isn’t enough.

Brown says, “They took money out of every school district in Kansas  budget to fund the extraordinary need fund."

For Pittsburg, that was sixty thousand dollars. Enrollment would have had to increase a full two percent for Pittsburg to get a cut of the money. The state says districts are getting more money in their general funds than ever before.

Brown says, "Well, yes we got a lot more in general. But we got zero in these  other funds we used to get money for, so we just transfer  it out. And it’s just a  smoke and mirrors type of thing."

The state did increase allotments for virtual learning students offering eleven hundred dollars more for those who learn outside the classroom.

 Brown says, "That makes no sense because it cost less to educate virtual  students then it does students who have teachers in front of them every day."

 There are students who come to schools after the beginning  start of the year that change in enrollment  won’t mean a change in funding right now.

George Nettels Elementary principal Diane Jackson says,  "When  you have a set amount and your number of kids goes up, of course it’s going to put  strains on what you can do and the money that’s involved with all aspects of what we do each day at school." 

Brown made cuts to school supplies last year and kept those cuts in place this year.  And was able to come up with a way to give teachers raises.

 Brown says, "But only because we had twenty-five teachers that left the district. About half of those retired.  If the block grant continues the way it is  and we are in the same boat next year, that will get harder  and harder to do."

        Pittsburg did slightly increase its school levy but offset that by using cash balances to pay down some bonds and interest.

     The new school funding system is being contested and will go to the Kansas Supreme Court for oral arguments November sixth. 

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