Educators urge lawmakers to find a solution to school finance

In this July 21, 2014 file photo, students at a summer reading academy at Buchanan elementary school work in the computer lab at the school in Oklahoma City. Wading into one of the most polarizing issues in education, President Barack Obama called Saturday for capping standardized testing at 2 percent of classroom time, while conceding the government shares responsibility for having turned tests into the be-all-and-end-all of American schools. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki,File)

TOPEKA, Kan (KSNT) – Tomorrow was supposed to be the last day Kansas lawmakers meet this year, but their work is far from over. Lawmakers have to either fix the school finance formula or Kansas schools may close.

“It’s the legislators’ responsibility to fund public schools,” says Kansas National Education Association’s Marcus Baltzell. “They haven’t done that equitably or adequately.”

It’s a clear message to a not-so-clear issue. Last week the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the school finance system wasn’t fair to poorer districts and schools are asking their staff to take precautions.

Baltzell says the KNEA recommend that educators should make whatever choices are best for them or their family so they can collect their salaries over a certain period of time or can extend that period.

Kansas City Kansas Public Schools recently sent an email to staff urging them to talk to lawmakers:

“It is important that legislators hear from their constituents on this issue, and I encourage you to reach out to your legislators to let them know your feelings about the importance of equitable school funding, and for students across the state.” –  David A. Smith, Chief of Communications.

But legislators are left with a few options. Lawmakers can either offer a bill that can appropriate $38 million to schools or a special legislative period will take place. The last option is to let the clock run out till June 30 and to close the schools.

“It’s a mess,” says Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. “I pity not only the children but the families. People organize their lives around the school year and for it not to start on time will create havoc and chaos for many, many Kansas families.”

The Kansas Senate President says that lawmakers will not attempt to address the Supreme Court’s ruling this week. That means a special session could be in store for June.

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