Commission Recommends Yearly Compliance Audits For Kansas School Districts
A commission set up to make Kansas school districts more efficient released its final report to the Legislature Tuesday.
The commission was created as part of a political compromise last session that put a court ordered $179 million more into Kansas schools.
The commission, which has been meeting since July, recommended two pieces of legislation. Neither would show any short-term savings.
One would establish a semi-permanent efficiency task force that would require yearly compliance audits for all school districts.
That generated a heated discussion at the commissioner's final meeting at the statehouse in Topeka.
Former state senate vice president John Vratil, a Leawood Republican appointed by Democrats to the commission, argued the yearly compliance audits were an unfunded mandate.
Republican appointees countered the audits would save more money than they would cost.
In the end, the commission agreed to recommend legislation that would have the state pay for the extra audits.
The other recommend legislation would create yet another commission to study certain educational standards.
State Representative Melissa Rooker, a Fairway Republican, was unimpressed.
“They continue to nibble around the edges and seek magic efficiencies that, it’s my firm belief, have already been found organically,” she says.
The report being sent to the Legislature passed with two members abstaining.
One of those was Dave Trabert, president of the conservative Kansas Policy Institute.
"I think we had some lost opportunities," he says. "I think there are some good things in the report but not nearly as many as could be."
Trabert says there are school districts that resist any kind of change in how they do business or how they are funded.
"It's unfortunate that there's still resistance within some aspects of the education," he says.
The Legislature goes back to work on Jan. 12. It faces a $648 million budget shortfall when the new fiscal year starts in July. Since K-12 education is 52 percent of the Kansas budget, educators are worried about severe funding cuts next year.