public schools

Esther Honig / KCUR

It was a tearful, dramatic day five years ago, when the school board of Kansas City Public Schools decided to close 21 buildings in order to adjust to a shrinking student population. That was in addition to nine previously closed schools, leaving the district with 30 surplus buildings.  

Sam Zeff / KCUR

While this case has been hanging over the state for the past five years much of the hearing Thursday before a three judge panel in Shawnee County District Court was spent on what has happened in just the past few months.

The four school districts suing the state, including Kansas City, Kansas, have asked the panel to halt further implementation of block grant funding, a school finance plan just passed this year by the legislature.

Block grants would essentially freeze funding for schools across the state while a new formula is written by lawmakers.

Sam Zeff / KCUR

There’s a school funding showdown Thursday in a Kansas courtroom.

Two court cases have been a huge part of the debate in the state over how much the legislature should spend on public education. But the real battle is between Kansas history and modern state politics.

When the hearing begins in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka there will be complicated testimony and evidence all lashed together with mind numbing legalese.

There’s a blizzard of paper with captions like: Plaintiff’s Response to Motion to Add to the Record on Remand.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Next week Kansas lawmakers will resume hammering out a budget for next year and trying to fill a $400 million deficit over the next two years.

But school districts all over the state are already feeling some pain.

Lower than expected revenue has already resulted in school budgets being cut for the current fiscal year that ends June 30.

A new tally from the Kansas Association of School Boards shows 26 districts across the state that have either cut spending or anticipates doing so in the next eight weeks.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

There’s probably not an educator in Kansas who isn’t waking up this morning with a bit of queasiness.

Monday is the day of the consensus revenue estimate, an awful bureaucratic phrase that has far reaching, real-world effects.

Economists from state government and academia will lock themselves in a room in Topeka and they will look into the future.

Lauren Manning / Flickr--CC

Four Kansas school districts will end the school year early because state aid has been cut for the fiscal year ending June 30.

The Smoky Valley School District in Lindsborg, just south of Salina, which serves about 1,000 students, says it will close three days early due to a $162,000 budget cut.

The Kansas House has voted to scrap the current school funding system in Kansas and replace it with block grants for two years. That would give legislators time to craft a new formula.

There was a contentious debate Thursday and the bill won initial approval on a 64-58 vote.

Republican Rep. Ron Ryckman admits change isn’t easy, but he says the plan will give Kansas school districts more local control over how they spend their dollars.

Lamar Republican Sen. Ed Emery wants to give Missouri schools a report card – he's filed legislation to create an A-F letter grade system similar to those enacted in other states.

"I think if we can do this in Missouri, we'll have better informed parents and more involved parents, and as a result, we'll be moving toward an excellence in education that we all want," Emery said.

Florida was the first state to issue A-F letter grades to schools a decade ago under former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. Now, about a dozen states have similar systems in place.

Authorities in 22 states, including Missouri, are investigating a scam aimed at school districts.

There’s nothing fancy about this scam. There’s no hacking or card readers.  It’s just what the Better Business Bureau calls an old time invoice scam.

It works like this: someone sends around invoices for $647.50 for workbooks.

The company name on the invoice, investigators say, is Scholastic School Supply, which is suspiciously close to Scholastic Inc., the huge educational book publisher.

Lauren Manning / Flickr--CC

With all Kansas City-area students back to school, a new report shows just how important attendance is in the first month of school.

A report by the nonprofit Attendance Works calls chronic absenteeism a "national challenge" and says about one in five U.S. students miss 10 percent of school a year.

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