school funding

Stephen Koranda file photo

Kansas lawmakers return to Topeka Wednesday for what was supposed to be the last day of the legislative session. However, the state Supreme Court ruled late Friday that lawmakers haven’t done enough to reduce funding disparities among school districts. That means there’s likely more work ahead for the Legislature.

Lawmakers shuffled school spending to reduce disparities, but the court says that didn’t fix the issue and in some ways made it worse. Justices say they’ll close Kansas schools if there isn’t a solution by the end of June.

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas Supreme Court has handed down its decision in the long-awaited Gannon school funding case, and it comes as no surprise to those who have followed its many twists and turns.

“This case requires us to determine whether the State has met its burden to show that recent legislation brings the State's K-12 public school funding system into compliance with Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution,” the court wrote in an opinion not attributable to any individual judge. “We hold it has not.”

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Wichita Public School teachers and other certified staff and faculty have voted to shorten the upcoming academic year and lengthen school days by 30 minutes. The change is needed in order to trim about $3 million from the district’s budget.

The United Teachers of Wichita, a teachers union, reports that out of the 4,045 votes that were cast, nearly 69 percent voted to amend Wichita Public School’s calendar.

Students will now attend 158 days next year instead of 173. Teachers will work 175 days instead of 190.

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

Last week, the Board of Education for Wichita Public Schools voted to consolidate the district’s two Metro schools to one location. KMUW’s Abigail Wilson reports that many unanswered questions surround the decision.

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

The Board of Education for Wichita Public Schools voted unanimously to reduce the district's spending by $18 million for the 2016-17 school year.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Gov. Sam Brownback has until Thursday to sign a budget passed by the Kansas Legislature two weeks ago. He'll need to find nearly $200 million in savings in order for the budget to be balanced. One of the options on the table is to cut a portion of spending to the University of Kansas and Kansas State. KMUW's Sean Sandefur sat down with Wichita State President John Bardo to talk funding higher education. 

Stephen Koranda, File Photo / Kansas Public Radio

Supreme Court justices had some pointed questions for an attorney representing the state in a lawsuit over school funding. At issue is whether lawmakers have done enough to reduce funding disparities among school districts.

Justice Dan Biles expressed frustration that lawsuits over education funding have been going on for years and the latest solution from lawmakers appears to be just a one-year solution.

“How many years do we operate unconstitutionally before we say the music’s got to stop and we got to quit dancing?” Biles said.

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

At a meeting last night, members of the Wichita school board tentatively agreed to look toward finalizing savings for the district by eliminating certain hazardous bus routes and changing the start times for several schools.  KMUW’s Abigail Wilson reports that an additional proposal could change the calendar for the next school year and possibly outsource custodial services. 

Abigail Wilson / KMUW

Without a constitutionally equitable school finance system, public schools across Kansas will not be able to operate beyond June 30. That’s because of a state Supreme Court ruling requiring legislators to make funding more equitable between school districts. Hearings on the matter are scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

The Board of Education for Wichita Public Schools met Monday night and discussed the potential shutdown.

Alex Starr, flickr Creative Commons

Attorney General Derek Schmidt says a law signed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback last week satisfies the state's constitutional duty to provide equitable funding to public schools.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports Schmidt filed a brief with the state Supreme Court on Friday urging it to withdraw its threat to close the state's schools.

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