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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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"HOMELAND SCHOOLS", Cabins to Complexes
Compiled by Republic County Retired Teachers Association
Copyright 1976
(Copy available at the Republic County Historical Society and Museum; Belleville, KS)

p. 27 - The constitution under which Kansas was admitted to the union (the WYandotte Constitution) in 1861 provided:

The first legislature after statehood created the Board of Commissioners for the management and investment of the public school fund.  Most of the money going into this fund derived from the sale of public lands as provided in the constitution.  During most of its history the Board of Commissioners invested these funds in conservative securities such as municipal and Federal bonds.  While I have not learned how much this fund amounted to, I do not believe that it was ever a large factor in the support of common schools.  No doubt the land set aside for the support of education sold at a very low price in those early days.  In 1969 or 1970 the public school fund was merged with the Kansas Public Employee Retirement Fund (KPERS), many of whom of course are former teachers.

Something that is not well known, I think, is that the 1861 legislature authorized a one mill state levy for the support of common schools and this was continued until 1879 when the legislature abolished it with the aid of an adverse ruling of the Kansas Supreme Court.  C. O. Wright, former secretary of the K.S.T.A. reports that while educators favored the one mill levy the "power structure" was against it.

From 1879 until 1937, 95% of the support of the elementary and secondary schools of the state came from local and valorem property taxes.  Kansas lagged far behind most other states in this respect.  For example, in 1937 when the school equalization law was passed, 1/3 of every state dollar in Missouri was going for education and in Oklahoma the state was appropriating $13 million for its public schools.  Money for the new state aid program in Kansas came from the new sales tax.  The formula for the state aid was:  the state would pay the difference between what could be raised by a  three mill levy on the assessed valuation of the district and $675 in the case of one-teacher districts and $27 times the number of pupils in the case of a graded elementary district.

Modest as this aid was, the extent of it declined under the conservative formula because of declining school enrollment and increasing property valuations.  The amount of state aid in 1937 was $2,113,993, but by 1944-45 it was down to $1,200,681.  Nevertheless, the precedent for non-ad valorem tax support had been established.  By the 1966-67 school year, state aid had grown to $86,600,000.  The present state foundation program became effective on June 1, 1973.  During the school year 1974-75 the state school equalization fund provided nearly 33% of the total cost of public education in Kansas and all state sources provided nearly 40%.  Local ad valorem taxes provided only 44% of the funds required for operating grades K through 12.

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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