In the 1990’s the Kansas Legislature passed KSA 72-8238, which grants school districts the ability to establish operate and maintain; fees, collection, limitations, disposition; fund extraordinary school programs.
USD 231’s recently established Gardner Edgerton Youth and Community Programs department, and the district has begun offering youth sports and recreational programs that it anticipates will be self-funded with a break even point of about $250,000.
“The GEYCP budget will have no impact on the USD 231 mill levy,” Deb Starling, Freedom of Information Officer, writes in response to this newspaper’s Kansas Open Records request.
“The GEYCP budget is planned to be fully supported thru participation fees and other ancillary revenues,” Starling continues. “The program will be administered under the extraordinary school fund beginning in 2017-18. Estimated annual revenues and expenditures are expected to approximate $250,000, with variations possible due to program enrollments.”
“This is yet another example of local school boards prioritizing something other than academics,” said Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute. “The state assessment results show 51 percent of USD 231 students are either below grade level in Math or need remedial training, but instead of putting additional resources toward that serious problem, they divert $150,000 to athletic programs that are otherwise available in the community. That money should have been used for teacher pay increases this year or to help underperforming students.   There is plenty of money in the system but citizens are continually over-taxed because local school boards choose to divert money from instruction and spend more than necessary, and legislators haven’t had the political will to do anything about it.”
There was no money budgeted for GEYCP in the district’s 2016 and 2017 budget, although the district has already established website presence and began providing programs.
Although web presence, classes and enrollment have begun, Starling says, “A new organization chart will be presented and recommended for approval at the annual organizational regular meeting of the Board of Education, July 24, 2017.”
A GEYCP coordinator and supervisor were hired in March 2017.Specific questions to district officials as to where funds for the program’s start up were obtained were not answered by press time.
According to Dale Dennis, Kansas Department of Education, “The extraordinary school program fund is primarily financed from fees, tuition and other local revenue. The fees and other local revenue make up over 85 percent of this fund. Approximately 5 percent was transfers from the general and supplemental general fund (generally) for 2015-16. “
Fees for providing an extraordinary school program for pupils shall be prescribed and collected only to recover the cost incurred as a result of and directly attributable to the establishment, operation and maintenance of the program, according to state statute.
All moneys received by a district from fees collected under this section or from any other source for extraordinary school programs shall be credited to the extraordinary school program fund. The expenses of a district directly attributable to extraordinary school programs shall be paid from the extraordinary school program fund, statute says.
As used in this section, the term “extraordinary school program” means a program which is established by the board of education of a school district, operated before or after regular school hours during the regular school term, and maintained for any or all of the following purposes: (1) Providing pupils with additional time to achieve learner exit or improvement plan outcomes; (2) giving pupils remedial instruction or independent study assistance; (3) affording pupils an opportunity to strengthen or attain mastery of basic or higher order thinking skills; and (4) conducting special projects and activities designed to enrich and enhance the educational experience of pupils, according to statute.