education funding

alamosbasement, flickr Creative Commons

The clock is ticking for Kansas lawmakers to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. The court says if lawmakers haven't reduced inequalities by the end of the month, schools could be closed.

Legislators are considering how to respond, and as Stephen Koranda reports, one disagreement is whether wealthier districts should be protected from losing any state aid.

    

A so-called hold harmless provision would make sure no Kansas school district loses overall state support. Republican Rep. Erin Davis calls the issue vitally important for her area of Johnson County.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Democrats in the Kansas Legislature are outlining a plan that they say complies with a Supreme Court ruling on education funding. The proposal would shift around $40 million from other areas of the budget to reduce disparities among school districts. Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley says the plan would avoid the courts closing schools.

“It is beyond time to work together to address the real problem so that all children, no matter where they live in the state, have access to a quality education this next August,” Hensley says.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / KPR

Kansas lawmakers are still at odds over how and whether to comply with a court order to fix public school funding. Two legislative committees wrapped up meetings on Friday but didn’t come up with any concrete recommendations on how to respond to the court ruling.

Democratic Rep. Jim Ward says he's disappointed.

“The frustrating part is that I thought for a while there we actually were going to make some recommendations that would give the Legislature a focus when we came back next week,” Ward says.

Stephen Koranda file photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is already looking ahead to next year’s legislative session, just days before lawmakers are set to meet for a special session.

The governor told Topeka radio station WIBW this week that he wants to put an end to what he says is a decades-long battle over school funding.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File Photo

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says lawmakers might add $38 million in education funding to comply with a court ruling that says school funding needs to be more equitable.

The Senate’s vice president, Republican Jeff King, says they may consider adding school aid for poorer districts to comply with the Supreme Court, but he expects there will also be other options in the mix.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas lawmakers will begin committee meetings next week in advance of a special session focused on school funding issues. The committees could discuss a constitutional amendment that would block the courts from shutting down schools during funding disputes.

The state is currently involved in a legal fight over school funding. The Kansas Supreme Court has said if it isn’t fixed by the end of the month, the funding system will be unconstitutional and schools could be closed.

Christopher Sessums / flickr Creative Commons

Services for students with disabilities are among the many things Kansas education officials must solve amid the potential threat of school closures on July 1.

The state's Supreme Court ruled last month that the Legislature failed to adequately fund the state's poor public schools and gave the lawmakers until June 30 to address the issue. While many districts have cash reserves, the court's opinion said that without an acceptable state funding system, schools "will be unable to operate."

Courtesy / Wichita State University

Wichita State University is asking its faculty and staff for ways to save money and increase outside funding for their departments. The school has experienced funding cuts from the state.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has made it official. He has signed an order saying Kansas lawmakers will return to Topeka on Thursday, June 23, for a special session on education funding issues.

The Kansas Supreme Court says funding inequalities among school districts have to be reduced or schools will close after the end of the month. Brownback made it clear he doesn’t agree with the ruling, but he wants to avoid schools closing, so he said lawmakers might add more money to comply.

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

Members of the local teachers union and some elected officials from Wichita gathered at a rally on Tuesday to urge state lawmakers to address inequities in school funding.

Teachers and parents held signs criticizing the inaction of state lawmakers. Children in purple t-shirts stood with signs reading “I need my summer program.”

The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened to close schools if legislators don’t fix education funding by June 30. But when the legislative session ended, the issue wasn’t addressed.

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