At-Risk Funding of $111 Million

The KC Star offers more information on the story of overstated at-risk numbers:

“In the 2005-2006 school year, Kansas schools got almost $111 million for at-risk students, based on the 135,000 students who qualified for free lunches.”

The reason? “[P]arents had understated their income on program applications.”

This is one category in which Kansas was not above average–its 17 percent rate of ineligible participation was virtually identical to the rate found in a national study in 2004, the Star says. That report came up with an 18 percent rate.

Do the errors have any impact on school spending? Apparently not. “The Kansas auditors found that even when ineligible students are identified, the numbers used to set at-risk spending weren’t adjusted.”

Some legislators fear that the study will be used as a rationale to cut funding to schools. Maybe. Maybe not. One thing should be clear: regardless of what the legislature (or court) determines to be the appropriate spending level, the budget should be determined by open, transparent adherence to clearly understandable, and enforceable rules.

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