Kansas Families United for Public Education (KFUPE) on state aid to schools

As of today (February 2, 2006), the website for Kansas Families United for Public Education (KFUPE) (located at http://fundourpublicschools.com) states, under the heading “The Crisis”: “State aid has failed to keep pace with inflation.”

I was puzzled by this statement, as I thought we were spending more and more on education each year. So I decided to investigate.

The Kansas State Department of Education has a table of recent education expenditures in Kansas. The data is located at http://www.ksde.org/leaf/data_warehouse/total_expenditures/d0Stateexp.pdf.

Here is the table of spending data:

Spending in Nominal Dollars
Total Spending Per Student
School FTE* State Federal Local Total State Federal Local Total Total
Year Enrollment Aid Aid Revenue Expenditures** Aid Aid Revenue Expenditures Increase
1993-1994 437,210.1 1,468,606,823 137,260,114 1,011,858,024 2,617,724,961 3,359 314 2,314 5,987 3.44
1994-1995 440,684.2 1,558,335,916 140,485,296 1,012,554,570 2,711,375,782 3,536 319 2,298 6,153 2.77
1995-1996 442,465.9 1,604,933,171 150,316,623 1,061,918,793 2,817,168,587 3,627 340 2,400 6,367 3.48
1996-1997 445,767.3 1,618,449,030 181,533,320 1,121,816,183 2,921,798,533 3,631 407 2,517 6,555 2.95
1997-1998 448,609.0 1,815,684,144 189,120,462 1,058,428,663 3,063,233,269 4,047 422 2,359 6,828 4.16
1998-1999 448,925.7 2,035,194,082 202,565,725 1,004,736,639 3,242,496,446 4,533 451 2,238 7,223 5.79
1999-2000 448,610.3 2,110,484,390 220,780,350 1,071,444,132 3,402,708,872 4,704 492 2,388 7,585 5.01
2000-2001 446,969.9 2,152,622,486 261,038,153 1,172,918,480 3,586,579,119 4,816 584 2,624 8,024 5.79
2001-2002 445,376.6 2,200,529,799 310,104,678 1,269,928,113 3,780,562,590 4,941 696 2,851 8,488 5.78
2002-2003 444,541.4 2,277,804,680 340,728,648 1,335,185,546 3,953,718,874 5,124 766 3,004 8,894 4.78
2003-2004 443,301.8 2,124,578,761 376,908,121 1,592,564,728 4,094,051,610 4,793 850 3,593 9,235 3.83
2004-2005 441,867.6 2,362,223,172 398,667,040 1,528,524,331 4,289,414,543 5,346 902 3,459 9,707 5.11

Here is the Consumer Price Index for the relevant years:

CPI
(1982-84 = 100)
Year CPI Inflation
1993 144.5
1994 148.2 2.6%
1995 152.4 2.8%
1996 156.9 3.0%
1997 160.5 2.3%
1998 163.0 1.6%
1999 166.6 2.2%
2000 172.2 3.4%
2001 177.1 2.8%
2002 179.9 1.6%
2003 184.0 2.3%
2004 188.9 2.7%

Applying some arithmetic to the figures in the spending table produces this table of inflation-adjusted spending:

Spending Change Year to Year, Real Dollars
Total Spending Per Student
School FTE* State Federal Local Total State Federal Local Total
Year Enrollment Aid Aid Revenue Expenditures** Aid Aid Revenue Expenditures
1993-1994
1994-1995 0.8% 3.5% -0.2% -2.4% 1.0% 2.6% -0.9% -3.2% 0.2%
1995-1996 0.4% 0.2% 4.0% 2.0% 1.0% -0.3% 3.6% 1.6% 0.6%
1996-1997 0.7% -2.1% 17.3% 2.6% 0.7% -2.8% 16.3% 1.9% 0.0%
1997-1998 0.6% 9.7% 1.8% -7.8% 2.5% 9.0% 1.4% -8.4% 1.8%
1998-1999 0.1% 10.4% 5.5% -6.5% 4.2% 10.3% 5.2% -6.6% 4.2%
1999-2000 -0.1% 1.5% 6.6% 4.3% 2.7% 1.5% 6.7% 4.4% 2.7%
2000-2001 -0.4% -1.3% 14.4% 5.9% 2.0% -0.9% 14.8% 6.3% 2.3%
2001-2002 -0.4% -0.6% 15.5% 5.3% 2.5% -0.2% 15.9% 5.6% 2.9%
2002-2003 -0.2% 1.9% 8.2% 3.5% 3.0% 2.1% 8.3% 3.7% 3.2%
2003-2004 -0.3% -8.8% 8.2% 16.6% 1.2% -8.5% 8.5% 16.9% 1.5%
2004-2005 -0.3% 8.3% 3.0% -6.5% 2.1% 8.6% 3.4% -6.2% 2.4%

As you can see, there are some years, most notably 2000 to 2004, where the “State Aid” figures, adjusted for inflation, are mostly decreasing. The statement on the Kansas Families United for Public Education website, therefore, could be construed as true. But over the period 1994 to 2005, “State Aid” increased by 61%, while inflation increased by 41%. So to make that statement true, you have to be looking at only recent history.

Also, to make that statement true, you have to be looking at only a small part of the total picture. “State Aid” is only part of the total source of funds that schools have. Schools also receive money from “Federal Aid” and “Local Revenue.” For 2004-2005, “State Aid” was 55% of the total spent on schools in Kansas, and for the period in the tables above, “State Aid” was 57.6% of total spending. When you consider the total amount spent, there is no year in which the increase in total spending was less than the rate of inflation for that year.

Then, there is even the larger picture. In recent years the number of students in Kansas has been declining. This means that the total spent per student increases at a faster rate than total spending.

Does it matter that “State Aid” might not be increasing as fast as total school spending? I don’t think the schoolchildren in Kansas can tell. But I should not make such a hasty conclusion. Given the mountain of regulations that public schools must comply with, there may be restrictions on how funds from certain sources may be spent, and those regulations might mean that the total available for schools to spend can’t be allocated optimally.

But I think I can safely conclude this: when advocates for school spending make the case that “State aid has failed to keep pace with inflation,” we should examine the total picture.


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