Education leaders’ message to lawmakers: “Uphold your oath”

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – As Kansas lawmakers plan to meet Thursday to try and prevent school closures July 1, education leaders are asking the legislators to “uphold their oath.”

“What we’re asking them to do is to uphold the oath they swore when they assumed their office: Protect and uphold the Kansas Constitution,” says Topeka Public Schools President Patrick Woods. “That includes Article 6 which is all about public education”

Tuesday morning the Shawnee County School Board urged education supporters, students and families to contact their local lawmakers and ask them to properly fund schools.

As big as the outcry over education funding has been, some legislators haven’t felt the immediate pressure from parents since the end of the regular session.

“There have been some emails that have been, ‘Get back to work and do your job,’” says Senate Republican Vicki Schmidt. “I think there is a level of understanding but it probably hasn’t peaked yet and I don’t expect it to until we go back into session.”

Legislative committees met last week to get the ball rolling but didn’t outline a specific fix. The Kansas Court warned lawmakers of closures if there was no action to close a financing gap among poor and wealthy districts. Last year’s special legislative period was brief but it could take more than a day for lawmakers to find a solution to school equity this year.

“Leadership has told us that the earliest we would take any votes would be Monday or Tuesday,” says Schmidt. “So that’s a little disturbing.”

Some legislators have suggested limiting the Kansas Supreme Court’s power when it comes to school finance issues.

Education leaders plan to visit the statehouse Thursday to show their support for a fix.

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