Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced Friday the formation of the Governor's School Efficiency Task Force to examine education spending and to develop guidelines on how to get more funding into classrooms where teachers teach and students learn. Currently only 15 of the 286 school districts in Kansas adhere to state law that requires at least 65% of funds provided by the state to school districts are to be spent in the classroom or for instruction.
"Providing a quality education to the children of Kansas is one of the core functions of state government and will remain a top funding priority for my administration," Governor Brownback said.
"It is critically important for state policy makers to be confident that state resources for education are spent as efficiently and effectively as possible. We must ensure that classroom teachers have the resources they need to educate effectively. We need more money in the classroom and less in administration and overhead costs."
More than half of total state spending is directed towards K-12 education. Since 2000, Kansas has increased K-12 education spending by nearly $1 billion dollars while the number of K-12 students has remained almost the same.
"The task force also will identify best practices for cutting administration cost, reducing overhead, and providing a greater percentage of state resources to support instruction," Brownback said.
A Kansas State Board of Education member since 2003, Ken Willard of Hutchinson will chair the task force. Willard served on the USD 309 Nickerson School Board from 1997-2002 and retired last year after a 38-year career in the insurance industry.
"I look forward to working with this outstanding group of Kansans who have varied private and public sector experiences and expertise -- especially in accounting and budget planning. They will bring a lot of good ideas to the table to assist Governor Brownback in meeting his goals to improve our state's education system," Chairman Willard said.
In Governor Brownback's Road Map for Kansas, two of his five goals are directly impacted by quality of our education system:
Increase the percentage of high school graduates who are career or college ready.
Increase the percentage of 4th graders who can read at grade level.
The Road Map also lists the focusing of resources on the classroom and transparency in education spending as priorities.
The Kansas Department of Education recently announced a task force that will identify strategies for increasing student achievement generally, and more specifically, narrowing the achievement gap.