education funding

AP pool photo

After two and a half hours of oral arguments, the Kansas Supreme Court will now decide whether the state Legislature has solved — in the least — the equity portion of school funding and whether schools will remain open past a June 30 court imposed deadline.

Kansas' budget woes have resulted in public schools across the state reducing costs and arts education is taking the hit. One Shawnee Mission teacher has had enough of shrinking support for the arts in his district.

Guests:

  • Jonathan Lane is Orchestra Director at Shawnee Mission East High School.
  • Narric Rome is vice-president of Government Affairs and Arts Education for Americans for the Arts.
Stephan Koranda / KPR

The final paperwork has been filed, and now Kansas educators and lawmakers await the May 10 showdown in the state Supreme Court over whether the state is equitably funding public education.

In a 208 page brief filed today with the Court, the plaintiff districts, including Kansas City, Kansas, say the bill passed in the Legislature's waning days does nothing more than move money around the system, could widen the gap between rich and poor districts, calling the whole attempt a "shell game".

Stephen Koranda / KPR

In a much anticipated filing with the Kansas Supreme Court,  state Attorney General Derek Schmidt says problems with equity in school funding have been solved and there's no reason for the high court to consider shutting down public education on June 30.

“The Legislature’s good-faith, careful, reasoned and well-documented determination should be given substantial deference,” said Schmidt's 25-page brief filed late Friday afternoon.

Olathe Public Schools

Update 4/8/16 at 4:45 pm

The Rogers School District confirms that Marlin Berry has signed a three year contract that will pay him $215,754 a year with no stated raises built into the contract. His current salary in Olathe is $231,263. That was set to jump to $250,126 had he stayed until the 2017-2018 school year.

Another superintendent from another big metro school district is leaving for another job.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

A new school funding formula for Kansas schools that would replace the current block grant scheme was filed just under the wire last month before lawmakers adjourned for a month-long recess.

Whether that bill passes or even gets a hearing is in question, but what's not in question is the concern educators and some legislators have about the 98-page bill.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Before the Kansas Legislature went on spring break last month, a Senate committee pushed forward a bill that would expand the grounds for impeachment of Supreme Court justices. The controversial legislation says that justices could be impeached for "attempting to usurp the the power of the legislative or judicial branch of government."

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Missouri Rep. John Rizzo (D-Kansas City) joined KCUR 89.3's Statehouse Blend podcast to discuss what to expect as the legislature returns from spring break this week.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

Sam Zeff / KCUR

The Shawnee Mission school board keeps hearing the same message: prepare yourselves for a possible cut in state aid in the next three months.

By Friday,  we’re going to know how much Kansas collected in taxes in March, and all predictions are that it will be another month of missing projections.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson again warned the board Monday that poor revenue collections could mean the state would not fully fund schools during the current fiscal year.

This comes right when the district should be completing its new budget.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

  How much does a college degree cost? What kind of salary will an engineering student make when they graduate? What about an English major?

Starting Wednesday crunching those numbers will get a lot easier for students who are looking at a state university in Kansas. There’s now one-stop shopping for students and parents looking at Kansas universities.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

Attempts by Kansas lawmakers to find a finance solution that would equitably fund schools have thus far failed in the Legislature.

Kansas Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr., a Republican from Olathe, joined KCUR's Statehouse Blend podcast this weekend to discuss the Legislature's burden in coming up with a new school funding plan.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Republicans on a Kansas House committee shot down a school funding proposal Thursday. The plan would have added and redistributed money to reduce funding disparities between school districts. The Kansas Supreme Court says lawmakers must address disparities by this summer or schools could be closed.

Several Republican lawmakers criticized the bill for going back to an old system for equalization. Rep. Marc Rhoades says that formula can’t fix funding disparities.

Kyle Palmer / KCUR

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey made a splash this month when he announced he would fund all Missouri teachers' projects on the education crowd-funding site DonorsChoose.org. The gift bought classroom supplies — everything from Chromebooks to crayons— for about 600 educators statewide. 

Jim McLean / KHI News Service

The Kansas Legislative session is winding down but as it does, you can almost feel the tension ratcheting up.

Two senate committees were working on bills bitterly opposed by educators from across the state.

Some got to the Statehouse just as the doors opened to testify against a bill that would force teachers unions to have a recertification election yearly.

By midmorning, teachers, superintendents and the school board association were breathing easier after the bill was passed out of the Commerce Committee with recertification every three years.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Ever since the Kansas Supreme Court ruled education block grants unconstitutional and ordered the Legislature to make school funding between districts equitable, many have wondered just how lawmakers will fix the problem before a June 30 deadline.

If the problem isn't fixed by then the Supreme Court says it will close down public education in Kansas.

University of Kansas Hospital

The University of Kansas and KU Medical Center stand to lose the most from $17 million worth of cuts announced by Gov. Sam Brownback Tuesday. 

The state Board of Regents itemized those across-the-board cuts Wednesday.

Kansas Board of Regents

The news that Kansas came up $54 million short of revenue projections in February was bad enough. But a few minutes after the Department of Revenue released the report, the news got worse.

In a statement posted to his official website, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said he was immediately cutting $17 million from the state Board of Regents budget, a 3 percent cut to the state's six biggest institutions of higher learning.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

This story is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.

Updated, April 29:

There is a showdown coming in the next few days in the Kansas Supreme Court.

The high court will hear oral arguments on a school funding lawsuit filed five years ago and now just coming to a head.

It’s hard to keep up with Kansas government these days. From balancing the budget, to school finance formula and recent "communist" name-calling, Up To Date checks in with statehouse reporters to try and make sense of it all.

Guests:

  • Bryan Lowry is the statehouse reporter for The Wichita Eagle. 
  • Stephen Koranda is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for Kansas Public Radio.
Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

This is an excerpt from Statehouse Blend. You can listen to the full episode here, or by subscribing on iTunes.

Guests:

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas Rep. James Todd (R-Overland Park) provides an insider perspective on the Kansas Legislature as we discuss education funding, judicial appointments, and the budget.

Guests:

A momentous decision from the Kansas Supreme Court came down this morning. It says block-grant funding is unconstitutional and also indicates that if the state can’t find a ‘constitutionally equitable’ way to fund public schools, then they will shut down June 30. Hear first reactions from school officials and Kansas residents.

Guests:

File photo

In a ruling that has Kansas educators cheering, the state Supreme Court has upheld a district court panel ruling that block grant school funding is unconstitutional.

In a near unanimous ruling, the justices said the state is not meeting its equity burden under the state Constitution, which mandates that Kansas children have a right to an equal education whether they live in a poor or rich district.

The justices, as they have historically done, did not order the Legislature to spend a specific amount to fix the equity issue.

Should the current funding model for Kansas schools be changed?  On this edition of Up to Date, we talk with three young people who debated that issue February 9 as part of Debate KC.

Guests:

  • Alex Trobaugh is a senior at Sumner Academy in Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Candace Villanueva is a graduate of Sumner Academy and currently works for Johnson County Community College.
  • Kayla Gilmore is a student at Emporia State University.
Sam Zeff / KCUR

The consolidation of school districts in Kansas is off the table at least for now. The legislation would have cut in half the number of school districts in the state. 

When the bill had a hearing in the House Education Committee, it was clear opposition was mounting from all over the state. The room was packed, many educators driving hours to testify against the bill.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

There seems to be a growing tenseness over the future of education in Kansas.

The fight last year over block grant funding was hardball and, at times, ugly.

Teachers felt under the gun and many decided to leave the state.

But educators say the attacks this legislative session feel particularly bitter and contentious

You could feel it in room 112 North in the Kansas Statehouse where the House Education Committee meets.

Jim McLean / Heartland Health Monitor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has given lawmakers a budget that balances on paper.

But it remains to be seen whether legislators will agree to the complex formula of spending reductions, budget transfers and administrative changes that Brownback is proposing to erase a projected $436 million shortfall in the budget year that begins July 1.

Lobbyists representing several groups and causes are lining up in opposition to many of the changes.

Shawnee Mission North

It seems Kansas always manages to resurrect an education controversy from its past.

School finance is always a battle, but another old issue that many thought was settled — district consolidation — is back.

The House Education Committee Wednesday will debate a plan that would cut the number of school districts in Kansas in half — from 286 to 132.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

Three hugely controversial bills will dominate the Kansas House Education Committee starting Monday afternoon with the crescendo building to Wednesday. That's when legislators will debate a measure that would consolidate school districts in the state, cutting the number by more than half.

Governor Sam Brownback laid out his legislative goals during the 2016 State of the State Address Tuesday night. He took the president to task and touched on high-profile state issues like education spending. 

Brownback laid the groundwork in his speech by referencing what he and lawmakers had done in Kansas in recent years. He touted tax policy, the unemployment rate and job growth.

“Kansans are finding good jobs right here at home. Working together, we’ve created an economic environment where new filings for new businesses have increased by 15 percent,” said Brownback.

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