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Kansas School Boards Gear Up For Funding Fight

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio

School board members from across Kansas are gearing up to fight for more funding when the state Legislature convenes on Jan. 12.

The Kansas Association of School Boards is using a court ruling handed down last week to makes its case.

A three-judge panel from Shawnee County was clear in its decision: schools in Kansas are unconstitutionally underfunded and more money must be spent.

Exactly how much and where that money will come from is being left up to the Legislature.

In a web presentation for school board members, KASB Associate Executive Director Mark Tallman said school boards must press lawmakers for more funding.

“It’s not that schools are continuing to demand more and more," he says. "What I think that we’re reacting against, and what’s very clear is, we have fallen behind kind of the historic, traditional commitment we’ve made."

"Total spending on K-12 education is projected to be just 4.42 percent of total personal income in 2015 —the lowest level since 1985," KASB said in an op-ed piece distributed on Friday.

The judges suggested in their ruling that lawmakers might have to find at least $522 million more for Kansas schools.

That's likely to be a difficult task; the state faces a projected $648 million deficit when the new fiscal year starts in July.

The panel's ruling is expected to be appealed by the state to the Kansas Supreme Court.

KASB told its members that if the court "fast tracks" the case a ruling could come in the next six months.

If not, school boards were told to expect a decision in November.

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