Kansas schools safe from state budget cuts with reopening costs looming

Picture of teacher teaching in classroom

Johnson County Health Department will meet to discuss reopening plans for schools in September.

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TOPEKA, Kan. — A new study from the Association of School Business Officials International and the School Superintendents Association estimates it will cost schools approximately $490 per student to reopen according to CDC recommendations.

While Kansas school districts will follow their own guidelines, there’s still a concern about increased cost to reopen safely during the pandemic, KSNT reports.

Dale Dennis, deputy commissioner for the Kansas State Department of Education, said Kansas schools should be in financially good shape to run safely in the fall.

That’s due in large part, Dennis said, because Gov. Laura Kelly has not cut money from school budgets.

“The governor was very understanding, very helpful to the schools,” Dennis said. “She did what she said she was going to do.”

There was concern earlier this year after it was announced that Kansas would be facing a $653 million budget shortfall due to lack of revenue from the coronavirus pandemic.

Kelly, nicknamed the “Education Governor” by many, said she wouldn’t rule out cutting from school funding if it was necessary. In Kansas, school funding makes up more than half of the state’s budget.

But federal funding from the CARES Act will also help schools reopen. Kansas schools received approximately $84 million in funding; that money must be used for coronavirus-related expenses to reopen and run schools safely.

“They’re worried and nervous, but they’ve been preparing all summer,” Dennis said.

The Kansas Board of Education will be releasing recommendations for school districts within the month, but districts are able to create their own guidelines for reopening.

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