Following the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision stating Kansas schools were funded inequitably to the point of being unconstitutional, and that no funds could be distributed under an unconstitutional formula, a Special Session was called on June 23 to attempt to remedy the inequities.
The legislature attempted a short-term remedy in March. At the time, many of us predicted HB 2655 would be found unconstitutional by the court, but felt strongly that we needed to help pass it to ensure there was enough time to try again. Indeed, a Special Session became that second chance.
Many competing ideas came to the table ranging from:
- Defy the court and refuse to comply,
- Comply but do not provide any new money,
- We need to provide the $38 million and ensure that schools are open for business on July 1.
When we arrived in Topeka, legislative leaders introduced a plan we were expected to rubberstamp without comment. Their plan, HB 2001, provided the $38 million additional LOB money, but did so by cutting funding to every classroom in the state. The court was crystal clear in their opinion – any remedy for equity must not harm adequacy. With other education advocates from across the state, I had been working on an alternative plan because, simply put, further classroom cuts were not an option.
Teaming with a great group of colleagues from both the House and the Senate, we drafted a pair of bills to separately address the $38 million remedy and the issue of districts harmed by that remedy.
- For a breakdown of how events unfolded in real time, Wichita's KSN News did a great job of covering process.