school funding

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday effectively ended a nearly decade-long lawsuit by ruling that state lawmakers finally sent enough money to local school districts.

Education officials in Kansas are taking a two-pronged approach to reducing teacher shortages: raising pay and fast-tracking teaching assistants and other professionals to the front of the classroom.

Juan Figeroa / The Texas Tribune

The chambers will need to negotiate how to give teachers pay raises, whether to adjust how students take standardized tests and how to provide long-term property tax relief for Texans.

From The Texas Tribune:

Texas Legislature 2019

A fresh push by school districts to get Kansas to pony up more money for public education met with skepticism Thursday from the Kansas Supreme Court.

Justices had pointed questions for both sides in the lawsuit that began in 2010 and has already gone through multiple rounds of oral arguments and rulings.

The justices, who so far have consistently ruled in favor of the districts, may be ready for it to be over.

Justice Eric Rosen called it frustrating that the funding goal that school districts argue for seems to be a moving target.

Ray Alvarez remembers the summer he couldn’t make ends meet driving children to school.

“I did qualify for food stamps,” the Olathe school bus driver said. “And yes, I accepted them. My income was so low.”

UPDATE: Saturday, with a crowd of teachers looking on, Gov. Kelly signed a school funding bill she hopes will end years of court battles between the state and local school districts.  

It took a fight, but the Kansas House and Senate have agreed to the school funding hikes Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly called for. Now, lawmakers will wait to see if it’s enough to satisfy the state’s highest court.

The clock is ticking for Kansas lawmakers to figure out a school funding solution. Briefs making the case for a plan are due to the state Supreme Court April 15.

With only one week of the regular legislative session to go, there’s still significant division over how to satisfy the court that funding is adequate and end the nearly decade-old Gannon lawsuit.

Republicans in the Kansas Senate seem ready to end a long-running lawsuit by complying with a court ruling that said the state sends too little money to local school districts.

The Kansas House? Not just yet. It’s advancing a plan that would continue adding school spending for another year, and only another year.

A Kansas school boards group plans to oppose an education funding bill that it says likely won’t end a long-running court battle over how much the state spends.

Like the governor’s proposal, Republican Representative Kristey Williams says her plan would increase funding by $90 million next fiscal year to respond to a court ruling that says education spending is inadequate. But Williams says her proposal would target more of that money to struggling students.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly wanted a quick solution to the on-going school funding lawsuit, but lawmakers are leaving for a mid-session break without having approved a plan.

They have until April 15 to agree on how much they want to spend on education and submit arguments for their plan to the Kansas Supreme Court.

The top Democrat in the House, Rep. Tom Sawyer, is frustrated with the pace of progress.

“We’ve got a lawsuit sitting there,” he said. “We’ve got to solve funding for our schools and we haven’t even started working on that.”

A bill in the Kansas Legislature would let students escape bullying by transferring to a new school, either public or private.

But critics say the bill is little more than an attempt to send state dollars meant for public schools to private alternatives.

From the campaign trail to election night victory speeches to promises in the halls of the Texas Capitol, property taxes are the top priority for lawmakers. Depending on which metric you use, the state generally ranks in the top 5 nationally for having the highest property taxes. Lawmakers say they have to do something to lower those bills.

But what is that something?

Gov. Laura Kelly has said she has an easy solution for funding schools: Just renew the finance plan the Kansas Legislature agreed to last year and fold in an adjustment for inflation. But over in the Senate, lawmakers are picking that proposal apart.

After months of wrangling last year, lawmakers approved a $500 million multi-year boost for schools in response to a state Supreme Court ruling in the long-running Gannon case.

Teachers fleeing the state? Promises to schools broken time and again?

Here’s some context for the statements you heard about Kansas education Wednesday night — both in Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s State of the State Speech and Republican Senate President Susan Wagle’s response.

Education advocates are calling for Kansas lawmakers to muster additional cash for schools and end a lawsuit over education funding. The groups gathered Tuesday at the Statehouse to call for lawmakers to provide the money and not reopen a debate over the state's school finance law.

Lawmakers plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into schools last year in response to a court ruling. The court said it wasn’t quite enough, but adjusting for inflation would fix it.

State lawmakers filed dozens of bills about educating kids ahead of Tuesday's start to the legislative session. The most interesting discussion at the Capitol will likely be around school funding.

It’s something the Legislature brings up every session, but bills aren't always passed. Lawmakers typically pass school funding bills only when they're forced to act because of a lawsuit.

The state commission tasked with recommending ways to overhaul k-12 education funding is close to issuing a final report to Texas lawmakers.

The commission met Tuesday to discuss a preliminary draft of the report.

 


An early estimate shows Gov. Greg Abbott's proposal for a school finance fix would provide three times more dollars for property tax relief as it would additional money for school districts in 2020.

public domain via Pexels

The Texas Legislative session is set to begin in less than a month, and one major item on the agenda has been figuring out how to increase funding to Texas schools. In fact, a state commission has been set up to tackle that very question.

Since John Sawyer moved to Colorado from Dallas, Texas, he’s been baffled by something. He spends about $200 a month on cannabis. His preferred shop, Platte Valley Dispensary, does a brisk business and Sawyer sees the demand for recreational marijuana only climbing.

He’s baffled because of his wife’s teacher salary. In Dallas, she earned $70,000 a year. In Denver, same job, she makes $44,000.

Public school teachers are watching closely as Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates promote and debate their plans for improving health care, tax policy and education.

One of the state constitutional amendments that Colorado voters will see in November aims to raise money for all the state’s public schools.

Backers of Amendment 73 say it could provide essential services, salaries and supports. Opponents say it’s too risky and may lead to unintended consequences.

Kansas schools are still struggling to hire teachers.

There are more than 600 vacant teaching positions in Kansas, nearly 100 more than in the fall of 2017. Special education and elementary positions have the largest number of vacancies.

The Kansas State Board of Education received the update on Tuesday from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee. The main reason for the open positions is a lack of applicants or qualified applicants.

Oklahoma is moving closer to changing the way it funds schools after a yearlong look at the education funding formula by a group of lawmakers and educators.

Kansas public schools will see $27 million from the U.S. Department of Education to improve literacy for all kids — including those not yet old enough for school.

From Texas Standard:

Two years ago, the Houston Chronicle investigated how Texas had been creating the false impression that there was declining demand for special education. The investigation was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and it showed that Texas had found ways to cap the number of special-education students, and block others from even qualifying. It was essentially a money-saving strategy, but now the federal government says it's time to pay up, and fix the system.

Wichita Public School teachers are receiving a more than a 3.5 percent increase in salary. In Topeka, the increase is nearly 8 percent, that district's largest in 26 years.

School districts across Kansas are raising salaries, restoring cut positions and adding new jobs.

How The School Funding Formula Works In Texas

Jun 27, 2018

The most basic thing to understand about school funding is that every student in the state of Texas has a dollar figure hanging over his or her head. But not every kid is worth the same amount of money in the eyes of state.

(This story has been updated.)

Kansas continues to underfund its schools, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Monday — a decision that could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars more over the next four years.

But because the Legislature agreed to significant hikes in funding this spring, the justices gave it another year to add to the amount it sends to local school districts.

The high court could have forced lawmakers back to Topeka in coming weeks to fix the problem or face school closures, something the state’s lawyers begged it not to do.

(This story has been updated)  

The ink is barely dry on a deal to increase school spending by more than half a billion dollars, but Kansas is already headed for a fresh round of legal arguments.

School districts suing the state say the plan falls short in part because it will happen gradually over five years. They want the Kansas Supreme Court to make the state pay out $506 million more this fiscal year — on top of the $190 million boost the Legislature had already promised.

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