TOPEKA,(AP) — The Kansas Education Department will continue distributing millions in bus funding despite a recent audit that says the payments are not allowed under current state law.
The state Board of Education announced it will keep paying for school districts' bus operations under the same formula it's been using until instructed otherwise. A January independent audit of how transportation aid to districts had been distributed said the formula is based on a law repealed decades ago, the Lawrence Journal-World reported .
The board held a meeting Jan. 26 in response to a letter from Republican lawmakers urging board members to suspend the Education Department's top school finance officer, Dale Dennis, pending the audit. But the board voted almost unanimously to support the officer's continued employment.
The audit said an additional $45 million in transportation aid had been given to some larger, more populated school districts over a five-year period by using the formula repealed in 1973 that provided a minimum, per-pupil amount of money to fund their bus operations.
Agency officials said they were instructed by lawmakers at the time to continue using the minimum funding formula so to prevent those larger districts from being underfunded.
"It's mainly telling the Legislature, 'Tell us specifically what you want us to do,' because for some time it's been kind of a moving target," said Republican Rep. Jim Karleskint about the agency's decision to continue using the formula. "But I think the state Board and the state Department want specifics from the Legislature, and I think it's incumbent upon us to provide that direction."
Lawmakers have introduced bills with hopes of clearing up confusion on the transportation aid formula. But Karleskint said lawmakers are waiting on a report due March 15 from consultants tasked with conducting a new cost analysis for school funding.