Districts react to education funding

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While lawmakers spent the weekend championing an increase in school funding, an attorney for the Kansas teacher’s union said he doubts the increase will be enough to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Both houses approved bills that would phase in $534 million in education funding in the next five years. While happy that there was an increase at all, attorney Alan Rupe said he wasn’t convinced the Court would be as satisfied as GOP lawmakers.

“Because the cuts to education have gone on for so long, it’s simply not enough,” Rupe said.

Dr. Gory Gibson, the superintendent of Valley Center Schools, echoed that sentiment. Gibson was grateful there was an increase, but worried factors of inflation and growth would mean the increase wouldn’t keep up with necessary spending.

“It’s a good first step, but I don’t know that it’s a good final step,” he said. “Our classrooms are growing in size and we’re also competing with the world. We need teachers who are paid adequately.”

His district supplied a chart which shows the increase closes a gap, but only slightly, between the rising costs the district faces and the increase from what lawmakers had originally proposed.

Lawmakers had been ordered by the state Supreme Court to increase funding to Kansas public schools, writing last year that the funding level was “unconstitutionally low.”

The court will review the new funding details in a few weeks, as districts across the state prepare new budgets for the next fiscal year. Gibson remains hopeful though that any increase from the legislature, means the hardest budgetary years may be over.

“The fact that we’re increasing a little bit, does give me hope,” he said.

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