school funding

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."

WSU Looking For Ideas To Address Funding Challenges

Jun 9, 2016
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.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Update via AP Wednesday, 10:06 a.m.: Gov. Sam Brownback is preparing to set the date for a special session of the Kansas Legislature on school funding.

The Republican governor plans to sign a proclamation Wednesday afternoon formally calling the GOP-dominated Legislature into special session.

He wants lawmakers to respond to a state Supreme Court order last month declaring that public schools won't be able to open after June 30 if legislators don't rewrite school finance laws.

The court rejected some changes made earlier this year in how Kansas distributes more than $4 billion a year in aid to its 286 local school districts.

The justices said education funding remains unfair to poor districts. Many Republicans have strongly criticized the ruling, and some have wanted to defy the court.

Lawmakers adjourned their annual session June 1.

Original story:

Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he will call state lawmakers back to Topeka for a special session to work on school funding issues. In a statement, Brownback said he made the decision after consulting with legislative leaders.

While most school districts in Kansas prepare for a possible shutdown at the end of the month, educators are looking for some guidance from the state Department of Education (KSDE).       

Everyone is waiting to see whether there will be a special session of the Kansas Legislature to try and fix the inequity between rich and poor districts.

If it’s not fixed by the end of the month, the state Supreme Court has said it will prohibit districts from spending or raising money.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Updated Tuesday, 11:09 a.m.: Gov. Sam Brownback announced on his website that he is calling for a special session "to keep Kansas schools open, despite the Court’s threat to close them."

Kansas Democratic lawmakers are pushing their fellow legislators to call a special session to work on school funding. Generally, only the governor calls a special session, but state law says a petition from two-thirds of lawmakers can force the governor to make that call.


For the first time, someone in leadership in the Kansas Legislature has called for a special session to craft a solution to school funding inequity that will satisfy the state Supreme Court and head off a possible shutdown of schools by month's end.

Rep. Ron Ryckman from Olathe, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, sent a letter addressed to "Colleagues" suggesting now is the time to act.

Sean Sandefur / KMUW

Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall says it’s important for each of the state’s governmental branches to remain respectful. He said this as the issue of public school funding continues to play out over the next few weeks.

On Tuesday, State Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce told the Associated Press that Kansas Supreme Court Justices have “gone out of their way to pick a fight.” It was in reference to the state’s highest court deciding that an attempt by the Legislature to make school funding more equitable wasn’t good enough.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The final day of the Kansas legislative session is often nothing more than a formality--but this year, a legal fight over school funding forced Kansas lawmakers to meet and consider how to respond.

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