Even before state courts decide whether Kansas spends enough money on K-12 public schools, an education funding lawsuit is complicating efforts by legislators and Governor Sam Brownback to close budget shortfalls.
A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court expects to rule by the end of December in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by parents of more than 30 students and the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City school districts.
Both sides predict an appeal to the state Supreme Court, which might not rule until 2016.
Kansas education leaders fear a new revenue forecast requiring the state to make $278 million dollars in cuts this fiscal year will result reductions in school funding.
The state's fiscal situation is expected to be discussed at a Kansas Board of Education meeting on Wednesday. Board member Janet Waugh says education spending in the state already is down to the bare bones.
State Department of Education officials say they don't think Brownback or the Legislature plan to cut K-12 spending because of statements they have made that indicated education would not be targeted.
Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has unveiled some education goals he'll push for if he's reelected to a second term in office. Brownback says he'll aim for 60 percent of Kansas adults to have a college degree or technical certificate. As Stephen Koranda reports, the events in Topeka and the Kansas City area also touched off a clash over education funding.
Brownback touted funding increases during his time in office, specifically money targeted at technical education programs.
A commission will be working over the coming months to look for possible ways Kansas schools could more efficiently use tax dollars. The group is made up of former lawmakers, education officials and members of advocacy groups like the Kansas Policy Institute.
Those on the commission don't always see eye-to-eye on education issues.
The group elected former advertising executive and Wichita Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sam Williams to head the commission. He says he'll be working to get everyone on the same page.
The Kansas State Board of Education is proposing a $459 million increase in state spending on public schools, though the board’s approval Tuesday of budget recommendations was mostly a symbolic statement of support for education.
The board’s proposals would phase in over two years an increase of about 13 percent in aid to public schools beginning in July 2015, but funding the full amount would require the state to reconsider personal income tax cuts enacted by Governor Sam Brownback and Republican lawmakers.
Gov. Sam Brownback has appointed an educator to the last open spot on a new Kansas commission that will examine ways to make public schools more efficient.
But a spokesman for the state’s biggest teachers’ union says earlier appointments by a legislative leader show that the panel will have an anti-public schools agenda.
On Wednesday Brownback named Hoisington High School principal Meg Wilson to the Student Performance and Efficiency Commission. He previously appointed superintendents Bev Mortimer of Concordia and Jim Hinson of Johnson County’s Shawnee Mission district.
Kansas education groups are gearing up their political activities ahead of the Aug. 5 primary election, putting their money and energy behind state House candidates that support public schools.
Organizers say teachers view recent changes in teacher licensing and loss of administrative due process as an attack on their profession.
The Kansas National Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, has more than $400,000 to spend this election cycle. Other organizations are going door to door to boost turnout for pro-education candidates.