WICHITA, Kansas — The state of Kansas is being asked to pony up and dedicate more of it’s resources to funding education. This after several districts filed lawsuits against the state claiming they weren’t getting enough money to deliver a quality education.
State lawmakers cut their annual base aid to state schools by 386 million dollars over the past few years. Schools have aksed for more funding but lawmakers initially said they were handcuffed on the situation. The state supreme court has said otherwise.
School-aged children are getting just over $4,000 a year for their education. Funding that most don’t see to be enough to brighten the minds of our youth.
School board members here in Wichita say the decision to get more funding lies in the hands of lawmakers. But some say the lawmakers have been ignoring court mandates for adequate funding for quite some time.
“They were basically going to give the courts the middle finger because they think it’s not their business,” said Randy Mousley, United Teachers of Wichita President.
The state supreme courts haven’t made a final decision on what the state should set aside for schools but did demand that lawmakers cough up another 80 to 150 million dollars by the first of July. The high court added another little wrinkle as well.
“Pretty much told the legislature and the governor, yes, the courts do have jurisdiction over this and school funding isn’t just a political piece that they get to make the sole decision,” said Mousley.
The state enacted cuts to income taxes both in 2012 and 2013, a charge led by Governor Brownback. The cuts have in turn led to less available resources to go with the courts demands on educational funding but Governor Brownback says money is not the focus here. It’s equity among schools.
“Is a child in Southeast Kansas getting the same education as a child in Johnson County? That’s the real question of how they do it and they don’t really prescribe a way to get at it, they’re just saying that’s the thing they’re focused in on,” said Brownback.
Even though the supreme court ruled the current funding level unconstitutional, it left exactly how much schools should get, up to lower courts.
It’s expected that state lawmakers will be asked to fork over another 440 million dollars when those lower courts decide.