OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (WDAF) — Kansas Governor Laura Kelly is renewing her call to the legislature asking for more funding for special education (SPED).
At the same time, she is celebrating the education budget she signed into law on Monday, saying Kansas education is fully funded.
Those two things feel like a bit of a contradiction, so here is a basic explanation: in Kansas, there is education funding, but then there’s also ‘enhanced’ funding for special education.
That ‘enhanced’ money is what the governor is once again highlighting.
“I asked the legislature to put in at least another $30 million into this budget. And even though I signed it, I’m still calling on them to enhance the funding,” Kelly said.
“By our own statutes, it says we should be at 92% of the costs of that [special education funding]. We are probably in the 70% range,” Kelly said of the current state funding level of SPED funding.
Sherri Schwanz is president of the Kansas National Education Association, and she said the teacher’s union is supportive of the additional funding adding that the current budget surplus makes this an opportune time.
“And that [proposed $30 million] wasn’t an increase, to be honest with you. It was moving forward to fill the gap that our local districts had to fill for our special needs students,” Schwanz said.
“That $30 million went from 71% to 74%. That’s still not funding our students to what SPED should be,” Schwanz said.
Kelly is calling on the legislature to appropriate the money when lawmakers return on May 23. She warns what will happen otherwise.
“What happens now is that money is taken out of the other pot for other kids to be used for special ed kids,” Kelly said.
That means school districts have to use money out of their general funds to cover the shortfall.
Republican lawmakers say that no bill has been written yet asking for this, adding that there is not a lot of momentum behind this move as they head back into session.