The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Kansas children and families, reminding us all that education is the cornerstone to the Kansas Constitution and our way of life. The Court ruled that the Kansas Legislature has again failed to establish a constitutional school finance formula in Kansas. The constitution requires that all school districts have equal access to substantially similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort. In other words, quality education must not be based on the zip code, or ability of your community to increase local taxes.
Our Legislature has until June 30, 2016 to correct the problem. If the Legislature fails to fulfill its constitutional obligation, Kansas will not have a constitutional school finance formula, school districts will be unable to spend any money, and schools will be forced to close. What this means in practical terms? Summer programs cease, vendors and employees are not paid, school feeding programs halt, repairs and maintenance to school facilities will not be completed. If there is a prolonged stoppage, school will likely not open in August on time. School closures would be devastating to our children, communities, and economy!
The Legislature has limited options: Fix the formula before their June 1, 2016 scheduled adjournment, or come back in a special session (which would have to be ordered by the governor) to fix it. Another option might be to do nothing.
Is There Anything We Can Do?
The district has a “worst case scenario plan” that I hope we never have to implement. Right now, our energy is best spent on advocating and supporting our legislature to do their constitutional duty.
The danger of a school shut-down is a legislative issue, and it is up to the Legislature to solve it. It is important that legislators hear from their constituents on this issue, and I encourage you to reach out to your legislators to let them know your feelings about the importance of equitable school funding for our students, and for students across the state.
We will continue to keep you updated on legislative issues through e-mail, and with information on our Legislative Page on the district website: http://kckps.org/index.php/legislative-information.