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Kansas State Board of Education response to Legislative Performance Audit of At-Risk Expenditures, statutory compliance

The Kansas State Board of Education believes in and supports the need for legislative performance audits. They are critical not only for ensuring the fidelity of state agency operations, but for evaluating the clarity and effectiveness of enacted legislation agencies must follow.

The Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) acknowledges that improved oversight of at-risk program approval is needed. To better meet the expectations of the Legislature, KSDE is immediately restructuring resources to assign this work to a single at-risk specialist and revamping timelines for review and approval by the State Board of Education. This work began in June but will continue over the next several months.

Regarding KSDE’s guidance for at-risk expenditures, we do believe we have complied with statute to the best of our current abilities. However, there are areas of the statute that we think could be clarified by the Legislature.

Foremost, is the requirement that an evidence-based at-risk educational program be peer-reviewed over five years. A limited scope of educational research follows students for that length of time, making compliance extremely difficult.

While the state allocated $406.3 million for at-risk funding, schools spent $563.9 million on at-risk programs. We believe it is not enough to simply support students who become at-risk. Our focus must be on initiating and supporting programs that prevent students from becoming at-risk in the first place. This is the most efficient use of state money providing the greatest opportunity to save money in the future.

The State Board welcomes the opportunity to continue to partner with the Legislature to develop effective solutions that support the intent of K.S.A. 72-5151.

Posted: Jul 7, 2023,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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