The Lawrence Journal World reports that the budget proposed by governor Sam Brownback, which includes a cut of $16.7 million in special education funding, could result in the state losing $70 million in federal funds. Brownback’s recommendations, contained in House Bill 2014, propose a cut in total state spending on schools of $132 million in the current school year, reducing base state aid per student from $4,012 to $3,937 ($75) per student.
As explained by Mike Mathes, president-elect of the Kansas School Superintendents Association and superintendent of the Seaman school district, “By not spending $16.7 million this year, we could be in the hole $70 million over the next two years.” The proposed cut would put the state below the federally mandated “maintenance of effort” level required for states to retain federal special education dollars. Mathes said that reduction in federal funds would mean that school districts would have to use their general fund dollars to make up for the shortfall in special education.
Asked if a looming federal penalty was a concern, Brownback’s policy director Landon Fulmer said it was but that the governor had to make tough decisions to balance the budget.