KASB says state breaking law since 2011 by underfunding special ed, hopes it will change
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - "We were very pleased at KASB. This is something that we have been hearing from our 286 school districts who belong to KASB," said Leah Fliter with the Kansas Association of School Boards.
This was Fliter's reaction Thursday when she learned that Governor Laura Kelly's proposed budget includes $72 million for special education, which would get it fully funded over the next five years. It's something Fliter says the schools desperately need.
"Especially over the past about six months, that we really, really are in a spot now. And we really need full funding of special education," said Fliter.
Fliter says if the state doesn't provide a school with adequate funds for special education, the school has to pay for it itself, causing a domino effect and stretching every department razor-thin.
But she says the most frustrating part is, with a statewide average of special education funding right now at only about 70%, she says the state is breaking the law.
"Back in about 2005, they did enact a law that said, we will reimburse school districts for 92% of the excess costs that they incur to educate special education students," said Fliter. "The last time the statewide average was at 92% was in 2011."
Fliter says while Thursday's budget proposal was a brief sigh of relief, she's staying cautiously optimistic because there's still a long way to go before it's signed into law.
"We're just hoping that we can all work together and do what's best... Not only for students with disabilities, and gifted students, but also for every single student in Kansas," said Fliter.
Fliter says lawmakers usually pass the new budget around April as the state's new fiscal year starts July 1st. She says she's crossing her fingers on what happens to the governor's proposal between now and then.