Types of Funds
Three Basic Government Fund Types
Operational funds are used to support the day-to-day activities of the school district. This includes the payment of salaries and benefits, utilities, student transportation, and supplies and services. This would include the General and Supplemental General Funds.
Capital funds are used to repair and maintain buildings and purchase equipment and furniture. While operational funds typically benefit the year the expenditure is made, capital expenditures generally provide benefits for many years. There is a special type of capital fund that is supported by the sale of general obligation bonds. Investors purchase the bonds and the proceeds are used for a major construction program. This would include the Capital Outlay Fund.
Bond and Interest (Debt Service) Funds
The third type of fund is usually called a Debt Service fund, but Kansas law refers to this fund as the Bond and Interest Fund. This fund is used to repay investors for the amount borrowed plus accumulated interest.
Special Revenue Funds
The special revenue funds are used to account for specific revenues. Kansas law requires districts to use additional accounting funds to separate program expenditures related to these revenues. These special revenue funds include Adult Supplemental, At Risk, At Risk (4 Year Old), Bilingual (English Language Learners), Contingency Reserve, Extraordinary School, Federal and State Grants, Food Service, Gifts and Grants, Parent Education, Professional Development, Special Assessment, Special Education, Special Liability Expense, Special Reserve, Student Materials, Summer School, Textbook Rental, and Vocational. For simplicity, these funds can be viewed as operational.
Pass Thru Funds
The district collects revenue in these funds and all proceeds are turned over to the state. Pass thru funds would include Cost of Living, Declining Enrollment, and KPERS Retirement System.
One reason it is difficult to understand school finance is because of the large number of funds and the mechanism to provide revenues to support the expenditures in each of the funds.
How can the district purchase equipment or refurbish buildings while operating funds are so limited?
State law places restrictions on the amount of operating funds a district can spend. This restriction is part of an equalization plan for all districts in the state. Currently state law does not place these restrictions on capital purchases.