School funding battle only getting started

Posted:
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The special session in the Kansas Legislature has sent millions of dollars back to Kansas public schools for equity.

The bill came after two days of political tactics and debate.

"Citizens, parents, and school district employees breath a sigh of relief last night when the legislature came to an agreement," said Diane Gjerstad, who works for Wichita Public Schools in Government relations. 

"That is what equity is all about, that different communities have reasonably similar tax effort for reasonably similar education's opportunities," she added. 

Gjerstad says that Wichita schools will get $5,300,000 which will save money for Wichita residents who pay property tax. USD 259 will also get $4,300,000 in Capital Outline Aid for building maintenance and software. She says that since 2009, Wichita residents have paid $72,000,000 in extra property tax to fund schools. 

The Kansas Supreme Court still has to approve the measure and call it 'equitable.'

There are four schools suing the State of Kansas for more funding; Wichita Public Schools, Hutchinson Public Schools, Dodge City Public Schools and Kansas City Public Schools. 

The legal team representing the schools tells KAKE News that they feel the equitable portion of the funding has been met, but the adequacy portion has not. 

Lawyer Alan Rupe says that Kansas public schools still need $550,000,000 to $600,000,000 for adequate funding. 

Rupe says that the equity portion of the lawsuit makes it so poorer school districts are equally funded to richer districts. The adequacy portion affects all Kansas students. 

The Supreme Court is speculated to take oral arguments in the Fall of 2016 on adequacy. 
 

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