Sen. Jim Denning says districts may have to pay back millions in state transportation dollars, move that would hit Shawnee Mission hard

Jim Denning (center) at a candidate forum ahead of the 2016 election.

In the wake of a state audit report that found the Kansas State Department of Education had improperly allocated millions of dollars to fund student transportation services, Overland Park Sen. Jim Denning has written a letter suggesting districts that benefited from the error may need to pay the state back.

That’s a move that would hit Denning’s constituent districts here in Johnson County hard. Both Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley, which are in Denning’s District 8, are among the schools districts to benefit from the error, receiving between $8 and $11.5 million in additional funds each year for the past five years. That means Shawnee Mission could be on the hook to repay millions to the state.

In his letter to State Board of Education Chairman Jim Porter, Denning suggests that the 1992 state education funding bill includes a provision that requires districts to repay money they receive above-and-beyond what they are authorized to get under the formula. He’s asked for a response from the State Board of Education by 5 p.m. today.