education funding

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Supreme Court has set arguments for September in an ongoing lawsuit over school funding. At issue is whether the state is spending enough on schools.

Republican leaders in the Legislature call the timing of the arguments political, because they’ll take place not long before the fall election. House Speaker Ray Merrick says it’s an effort to direct attention away from retention elections for the justices.

“The timing of the scheduled arguments yet again demonstrates the court’s desperate political motivations,” Merrick says.

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

To say that many educators in Kansas are fed up with state lawmakers would be an understatement. The state Legislature has been putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on public schools in recent years, and this election season, educators are trying to send legislators packing.

Christopher Sessums / flickr Creative Commons

Kansas lawmakers avoided a legal fight shutting down schools at the beginning of this month. Legislators adjusted the budget to comply with a Supreme Court ruling. But as statehouse reporter Stephen Koranda reports, there’s more legal wrangling ahead in a lawsuit over school funding.

Wichita Public Schools

Updated: Kansas schools will be able to keep their doors open and the threat of a potential statewide shutdown is over. The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a bill passed by lawmakers last Friday and signed by Governor Sam Brownback on Monday, fixes inequities in school funding between rich and poor districts.

Now, the court will move on to the larger question of whether the Legislature is providing adequate funding to schools, which officials say could involve hundreds of millions of dollars. A date for those arguments has not been set.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Much of the credit for keeping Kansas schools open is going to Fairway Republican Rep. Melissa Rooker and other moderates who put forward a plan that didn’t reduce school aid.

Stephen Koranda

Updated June 27, 2016: Gov. Sam Brownback signed Substitute for House Bill 2001, which aims to satisfy a mandate from the Kansas Supreme Court to correct inequities in school funding. The bill increases state funding for poor districts by $38 million for the 2016-17 school year by diverting funds from other parts of the budget as well as redistributes funds from wealthier districts. Brownback says that signing the bill ensures that Kansas schools will remain open.

“I appreciate the hard work of legislators which began prior to the start of the session in a series of meetings," Brownback said in a press release. "The effort to bring together legislators, educators and attorneys resulted in a bill supported by all parties and a stipulation by plaintiff’s attorney that House Bill 2001 satisfies the equity portion of this litigation."

Brownback also congratulated House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle for "an efficient and focused special session."

Chris, flickr Creative Commons

A new plan to fund public schools got a big boost today when some districts that stand to lose money said they would support the proposal.

Several wealthy districts in Johnson County will lose overall funding, which will go to assist poorer school districts. Todd White, superintendent of Blue Valley Schools, says they’re willing to compromise and accept the bill in order to keep schools from closing.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File Photo

A school funding plan has been making fast progress in the Kansas Legislature, passing out of both House and Senate committees today.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

The chairman of the Kansas Senate’s budget committee says lawmakers have a preliminary school funding plan. Legislators return to Topeka today for a special session. As Stephen Koranda reports, they’ll respond to a state Supreme Court ruling that says there are unconstitutional disparities in the school funding system.

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson didn’t release many details, but he says the plan would shift $38 million into a certain type of Kansas school funding that reduces disparities among districts.

A special session focused on solving Kansas' nettlesome school funding problem begins Thursday. At stake: school itself. The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened a statewide shutdown of schools if lawmakers don't make funding more equitable before June 30.

It's not an overstatement, then, to say most Kansans will be impacted by what happens in Topeka over the next few days. 

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