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Virtual school programs are an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Most of the state-run virtual school programs we identified still allowed local districts to operate virtual school programs, but we could not compare student outcomes or expenditures between states. In Kansas, local school districts operate virtual school programs. 105 school districts out of the 286 Kansas school districts spent at least $50 million on virtual school programs in the 2020-21 school year. We reviewed 4 state-run models, 3 of which also offered district operated virtual school programs like Kansas. A lack of data limited our comparison of other states' virtual school program expenditures and outcomes. Data reliability issues prevented us from evaluating outcomes for virtual students in Kansas. 
In response to the COVID pandemic, the federal government enacted six major relief bills totaling over $5 trillion. The federal government allocated about $34 million to the state of Kansas.  Out of that, the state had discretion on how to spend about $2.6 billion. In May 2020, the governor established the Office of Recovery and created a taskforce to distribute and administer certain COVID relief funds. The state distributed CARES Act discretionary funding through a 3 round proess that involved the SPARK taskforce and the State Finance Council. About $1.6 billion in ARPA funds are currently being distributed thorugh legislative appropriation and the SPARK taskforce.The state's distribution of CARES Act funding appeared appropriate and reasonable.  Most of the CARES Act expenditures we reviewed were likey allowable under federal spending rules. However, some expenditures appeared wasteful or raised other concerns even though the expenditure may be allowable under federal rules. Federal rules likely contibuted to the problems we encountered.
To increase connectivity in unserved and underserved areas in Kansas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kansas Department of Commerce (Commerce) and other stakeholders developed the Connectivity Emergency Response Grants program in 2020. The program received $50 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Commerce awarded about $48.5 million of that funding in connectivity grants to the internet service providers and Kansas communities that applied. 66 grants went to 39 entities across seven regions of Kansas. South Central Kansas received about $14 million. Southwest Kansas received about $11 million. Northeast Kansas received about $9 million. Southeast and East Central Kansas received just over $5 million each. North Central and Northwest Kansas received around $550,000 or less. The North Central and Northwest regions also requested the least in CERG funding.
Kansas’s cryptocurrency tax policies generally aligned with federal policies, but some of those policies have been difficult to enforce in recent years. Federal tax policy is set up to tax cryptocurrency in several ways. Kansas’s income tax code mirrors federal tax policy. As a result, the state should receive income tax revenue from cryptocurrency transactions. However, it’s unlikely Kansas receives all income tax revenue from cryptocurrency transactions because of a lack of federal reporting guidelines. Finally, state governments have yet to agree on a set of best practices regarding the taxation of cryptocurrencies.
The 2018 Kansas Cybersecurity Act created the Kansas Information Security Office (KISO) to reduce state agencies’ cybersecurity risk. KISO offers agencies 3 cybersecurity service levels--basic, intermediate, and advanced--that appear to align with the Cybersecurity Act requirements we could review. However, KISO’s services may not have as many effects as the Legislature intended because few agencies use intermediate or advanced services. Agency officials we surveyed had mostly positive opinions about KISO’s services but officials may not always know what their agencies’ needs are or what KISO services they receive. That may be because KISO’s communication with agencies isn’t proactive enough.KISO is funded through fees it collects from agencies. Its revenues appeared to be less than its costs in fiscal years 2020-2021. But we don't know if KISO’s services are cost-effective because of data limitations and neither do KISO officials or most of the 7 agencies we interviewed. KISO officials described steps they take to limit their costs, some of which may have unintended negative effects.
While some audits are statutorily required, most are requested by legislators and approved by the Legislative Post Audit Committee. A legislator, legislative committee, or representative from the Governor’s Office contacts our staff to let us know they are interested in an audit. In this Rundown episode, Chris Clarke, Legislative Post Auditor, and Kristen Rottinghaus, Deputy Post Auditor, discuss the audit proposal process and summarize the new audit proposals LPA staff will be working on in the coming months.
The Tax Credit for Low Income Student Scholarship program helps eligible students to attend private schools of their choice. Kansas law requires that 90% of contributions be disbursed as scholarships within 36 months. During the period from 2015-2021, scholarship granting organizations disbursed just over $9 million in scholarships of the $15.5 million in contributions they received. All but 2 scholarship granting organizations met the 90% distribution requirement during that time. Both organizations mentioned that a lack of eligible students caused them to fall short of the requirement. KSDE monitors scholarship granting organizations' compliance with state law at a high level, but their processes lack information to track the 90% distribution requirement. 
The Kansas Legislature created the Mental Health Intervention Team Program in school year 2019 to increase students’ access to mental health care resources. It has reauthorized and expanded the program in the following years. Kansas school districts employ licensed mental health care staff to provide several different services to students.  Districts reported a 13% increase in total licensed mental health staff FTE including a 29% increase in social worker staff FTE from school year 2019 to 2022. However, the FTE trends should be interpreted with caution because school districts don’t report social worker FTE consistently to the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). The 5 community mental health centers (CMHCs) and 5 school districts we interviewed generally reported positive experiences with the program even though all 5 CMHCs reported losing staff to school districts.
Overseen by the Kansas Department of Revenue, the Division of Vehicles is responsible for suspending and revoking driver’s licenses. Suspended or revoked drivers must fulfill violation-specific criteria to have their license reinstated, and in some cases, they must also pay a fee. From 2019 to 2021, Kansas drivers paid about $18 million in fees to have their driver’s licenses reinstated. The fee revenue was allocated to several different state agencies and programs. From 2019 to 2021, the Division of Vehicles issued 176,000 driver’s license suspensions or revocations. Some Kansas drivers may have experienced financial or social hardships from their suspension or revocation. Fees and other financial obligations may have limited some drivers’ ability to get their license reinstated for less-severe violations. Most of the academic research we reviewed also suggested that the loss of driving privileges had a negative financial and social impact on people. Stakeholders we spoke to agreed that the loss of driving privileges could have a negative impact on Kansans, but recent changes in state law could help lessen that impact.
Our January 2020 audit of the juvenile justice reforms (Senate Bill 367) had recommendations related to improving and sharing available juvenile offender data across several agencies and strengthening the Department of Correction's grant approval processes. In this follow up audit, we determined the 2 agencies implemented 4 of the 5 recommendations we made in the 2020 audit. Specifically, as of February 2022, the Kansas Department of Corrections implemented all 3 recommendations. The Office of Judicial Administration has implemented 1 and is currently implementing the other recommendation.  We also noted the Office of Judicial Administration's centralized case management system project is significantly behind schedule.  
Since 2008, state law required state agency officials to complete an economic impact statement for every new or amended Kansas Administrative Regulation. In 2018, amendments to state law significantly changed the economic impact statement process.  We found that most economic impact statements (84%) submitted from 2018 to 2020 did not have a cost estimate because agencies either believed there was no cost or did not report one. Additionally, several economic impact statements we reviewed had small errors or inconsistencies. We found the Division of the Budget’s review appeared to have little effect on agencies’ economic impact statements. The division's review process also did not include two requirements in state law. We also reviewed a state law requiring agencies to hold a public hearing for any economic impact statements that had two-year compliance costs exceeding $3 million. From 2018 to 2020, only two economic impact statements had a two-year cost that exceeded the $3 million threshold. However, were unable to fully evaluate the impact of adjusting the $3 million threshold because of how agencies reported costs.      
In fiscal year 2021, 4 case management providers served about 7,000 children in foster care statewide. DCF monitors the foster care program at a high level, but case management providers determine how best to serve children in foster care. Although DCF generally has adequate written policies, DCF and case management providers’ practices were not adequate to ensure the safety of children in foster care in several areas. DCF’s policies appeared generally adequate to ensure children were placed in appropriate homes, but they could be stronger in one area.  However, case management providers did not meet key safety and well-being standards related to appropriate placements. Further, case management providers aren’t always using comprehensive data for making placement decisions.  DCF policies were adequate regarding monthly visits between case management staff and children in foster care.  However, in practice case management providers did not follow DCF policy related to frequency of in-home visits. Further, case management providers did not sufficiently assess the safety of a child in all cases. DCF had adequate policies and grant requirements for responding to urgent matters. However, foster parents complained about slow responses to urgent situations and poor communication in general. DCF policies on foster parent training were adequate, and most foster parents report they have been provided with appropriate training. DCF had adequate policies to locate missing foster care children, and it appears case management providers and DCF followed took appropriate action for runaway or missing children.   High caseloads and data use likely caused many of the issues we found related to child placement and safety. DCF has not taken action to correct systemwide safety issues despite continued concerns about the safety of children in foster care. The state does not have the capacity to provide services to all children in foster care, especially those with specialized service needs. Most Kansas counties had enough foster home capacity to meet their demand in fiscal year 2021, but close to 40% of the state’s counties might not have enough foster home capacity. Even when counties have enough licensed foster homes, stakeholders told us the state may not have enough homes to care for children with complex physical, emotional, and behavioral needs. DCF told us they are looking into options to address placements for children with complex physical, emotional, and behavioral needs children. Caseloads for case workers were higher across the state than best practices recommend. Case workers we surveyed told us high caseloads made it difficult for them to do their job.  Across the state, children may not have always received services they needed, especially specialized or acute services. Much like safety issues, service delivery and capacity issues are not new to DCF and suggest larger accessibility issues. 
Developmental education courses are for college students who are not academically prepared to complete regular college-level work. A little more than 11,000 Kansas high school graduates enrolled in at least one developmental education course in 2020.  We surveyed high school and post-secondary teachers and staff to collect their opinions on how significant several factors are in a student's need to take a developmental education course. Nearly two-thirds of post-secondary survey respondents reported that the length of time a student has been out of high school is a significant factor in the need for developmental education courses. Additionally, about two-thirds of high school respondents reported that a lack of educational support at home and a lack of course mastery are significant factors in students not being prepared for college. Other stakeholders we talked with reported that a lack of appropriate coursework in high school is an important factor in the need for developmental courses. Last, survey respondents and stakeholders reported several strategies to reduce the need for developmental education courses including  requiring skills mastery in high school and providing additional educational supports. 
We couldn't determine the effect of taxes or exemptions on competition between government, non-profit, and for-profit businesses because of data limitations. Research on competition between those 3 sectors in the United States is limited and much of it is dated. The 4 research studies we reviewed found that although some businesses may appear similar, slight differences in services or location can affect the level of any competition. Additionally, the research shows government and non-profit businesses have some advantages over for-profit businesses, but the effect on for-profit business is unclear. We also looked at differences in statutory tax rates in 3 industries in Kansas because they operate in close proximity and may offer similar services in many parts of the state. In Kansas, for-profit fitness centers, daycare centers, and mental health centers generally pay taxes that similar government and non-profit businesses do not pay. But we couldn’t determine how these differences in taxes or exemptions effect competition in Kansas because of data issues and time constraints.
In 2016, the Legislature passed a law requiring a performance-based budget system. The system was supposed to be implemented in 3 phases--a program inventory (due January 9, 2017), an integrated budget fiscal process (due January 6, 2018), and a performance-based budget system (due January 14, 2019). We reviewed whether the system was adequately implemented as outlined in state law, and whether state agencies provided complete, accurate, and reliable information. For the first question, we found the Division of the Budget generally met the basic requirements in state law. But the performance-based budget system doesn’t seem to have changed the way the state makes budgeting decisions. That’s partly because statute is very general and allows a lot of discretion.For the second question, we found that most of the 79 state agencies we reviewed submitted the required information to Budget. We evaluated the quality of the program inventories and performance measures that 7 of those agencies provided. 5 of the 7 agencies’ program inventories didn’t include all required information. 1 agency only had output measures (no outcome measures). And 3 agencies’ performance measures had significant accuracy or reliability issues.
We couldn't determine the effect of taxes or exemptions on competition between government, non-profit, and for-profit businesses because of data limitations. Research on competition between those 3 sectors in the United States is limited and much of it is dated. The 4 research studies we reviewed found that although some businesses may appear similar, slight differences in services or location can affect the level of any competition. Additionally, the research shows government and non-profit businesses have some advantages over for-profit businesses, but the effect on for-profit business is unclear. We also looked at differences in statutory tax rates in 3 industries in Kansas because they operate in close proximity and may offer similar services in many parts of the state. In Kansas, for-profit fitness centers, daycare centers, and mental health centers generally pay taxes that similar government and non-profit businesses do not pay. But we couldn’t determine how these differences in taxes or exemptions effect competition in Kansas because of data issues and time constraints.
School districts maintain sensitive data which makes them attractive targets for cyberattacks.  Although school districts maintain sensitive data, Kansas districts are not required to implement any specific IT controls. Many school districts have not implemented several basic It security controls: The majority of survey respondents (147 of 286 school districts - 51% resonse rate) indicated they lacked proper security awareness training and incident response plans, did not require secure confidential data transmission, and did not perform vulnerability scans at all or frequently enough. Districts reported that staffing issues and lack of knowledge about what IT security controls to implement were significant barriers to improving IT security.  Finally, districts reported spending an annual average of about $18 per student on IT security in recent years. In comparison, the average total expenditure per student is about $16,200. 
Substance abuse and mental health treatment in Kansas is provided by a network of providers and overseen by several state agencies. Individuals can seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions. The 23 providers we interviewed reported using many practices and programs to address their clients’ needs. Almost all of the 11 programs and practices most commonly reported by providers had at least some research indicating they were effective. But data limitations kept us from assessing how well they are working in Kansas.  Additionally, Kansas substance abuse and mental health providers use similar practices and programs as five other states we reviewed. We were not able to compare Kansas's outcomes to other states because of data limitations.
The estimated revenues of the Council Grove site of Butler County Community College were about $11,000 less than its estimated expenditures. Butler County Community College (BCCC) operates a site in Council Grove that serves about 200 students. In fiscal year 2019, the estimated revenues for the Council Grove site were about $11,000 less than its estimated expenditures. In fiscal year 2019, the estimated expenditures of the Council Grove site were about $158,000. In fiscal year 2019, the Council Grove site generated about $147,000 in revenues from state aid and student tuition and fees. State Aid has not been paid according to Regents’ formula in recent years, which could explain why the Council Grove site operated at a deficit in fiscal year 2019. Because state aid hasn’t been paid according to Regents’ formula, it’s possible that property tax may have supported the Council Grove site but we couldn’t tell.
25 counties received a total of $2.3 million in grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) that ranged from $5,000 to $856,000 with no obligations. The Center for Tech and Civic Life is a non-profit organization that provides civic information for voters as well as tools for election officials. 25 Kansas counties applied for and were awarded $2.3 million dollars in CTCL grants. As of January 31, 2021, counties reported using 92% of their grant money  on items such as election equipment, staffing, and real estate expenses. There were no obligations associated with the acceptance of the CTCL grant.  The grants were the subject of some political concerns, and under a new state law, counties will not be able to accept these type grants in the future.
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