Reaction to Kansas school funding lawsuit

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Four school districts across Kansas headed to a courtroom to get some state attention, due to what they call ‘broken promises’ made four years ago.

“That’s why we’re in the position we’re in, because the promises weren’t kept,” says Santa Fe Trail superintendent Steve Pegram.

Promises that once the recession was over, schools would regain the funding they needed. That’s after school funding was cut by half a billion dollars in 2009.

“We reduced 12 to 14 professional staff that school year,” says Pegram.

And though school funding has increased by more than 270 million dollars in the last 3 years, he says schools are still struggling. Three district judges agree, saying that evidence indicates the state needs to spend at least 548 million additional dollars on Kansas schools each year.

“Ordering more than half a billion dollars of more aid is ridiculous,” says Republican Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce.

While some legislators disagree with the judges decision, on the other side of the aisle….
“We’ve fallen further and further behind in terms of what our constitutional duty is to fairly fund schools,” says Democratic Minority Leader Anthony Hensley.

However Bruce says better funding doesn’t equal better test scores.
“We’re spending more money on Kansas school children than ever before in our state history and our student achievement scores continue to be flat,” says Bruce.

Superintendent Pegram says today wasn’t a win for anyone, merely a public reality check that Kansas schools are suffering.

He also adds, “Schools did not cause the financial problem in the state of Kansas.”

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