By NICK GOSNELL, Hutch Post
HUTCHINSON — Ultimately, the Vice President for Advocacy with the Kansas Association of School Boards believes the renewal of high-density at-risk funding for K-12 education will pass, but the devil is in the details.
"Will the legislature put some additional restrictions or limitations or requirements on how those dollars are used?" asked Mark Tallman. "From our members, as local school boards, we certainly have no problem with those dollars being directed and look at good ways, effective ways to spend those dollars. We're always a little concerned, if the legislature gets too restrictive and may limit the ability of local districts to try to figure out new or innovative ways or better ways locally to spend those dollars."
Tallman notes that test scores alone do not measure whether money is being spent correctly.
"Some of what we do with at-risk dollars might not be focused on getting our math scores up," Tallman said. "They might be focused on dealing with student mental health issues or emotional stability or behavioral issues or study skills that you have to tackle first before kids will be ready to get to higher level academic achievement."
With that said, there are some measures where Kansas is showing success.
"Every year we see that the percent of Kansans who have completed high school, who have any type of college such as technical degrees, have four-year degrees and more. Those numbers have increased every year and their pay has increased every year, the additional compensation you get. We can't bring that back to individual districts, but what we do know is that, in general, our system is producing a better educated population than in the past."
At-risk funding has been one of the points of emphasis in the recent Kansas Supreme Court cases regarding school funding.