Equitable and Adequate School Funding

Chichen Itza, Mexico

I received this photograph from Alan, a colleague who, like many of us, has spent decades advocating for equitable and adequate funding for Kansas schools. Apparently, the Mayan people of Chichen Itza, Mexico found it entertaining to watch “athletes” transcend this tall stone wall while carrying a boulder, the size of a basketball. Once at the top of the wall, the goal was to propel the boulder through the stone ring affixed to the stone wall.

Alan suggested to me that our work to ensure Kansas kids have access to equitable and adequate funding (as required by our Constitution) is like traversing this wall. One has to be prepared, and have the stamina to reach the goal.

I want to thank the many advocates who demonstrate the stamina and unwavering commitment to education in our state. This last legislative session resulted in our representatives and senators coming together across political party lines to develop a new funding formula. While not without flaws, our legislators developed a formula that is structurally sound, and provides additional resources tied to the educational needs of our students.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed the bill on Thursday, June 15, which allowed the bill to advance to the Kansas Supreme Court for review.  The hearing at the Supreme Court is scheduled for Tuesday, July 18, 2017. There is anticipation, from some, that the Supreme Court will find areas of the law that need to be reworked, in order to ensure equity (all students having access to similar opportunity and resources).  There is also anticipation, by some, that the level of funding appropriated in the bill will fall short of adequacy. Still, I am grateful to the Supreme Court for allowing school districts across the state of Kansas to continue to operate while the bill is under their review.

I also want to extend appreciation to our legislators and education advocates, whose determination and stamina have returned the education of Kansas kids back to the top of the priority list. I am confident the Supreme Court will ensure the school finance law is constitutional, by maintaining oversight as any deficiencies in structure or funding are resolved. In the meantime, it’s up to us to prepare to welcome our students to a new school year, fully focused on their futures.

 

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