Hensley: We have to get school funding right, right now

By Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley

Last week, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled on the adequacy portion of the school finance lawsuit. Their decision confirmed what we already knew: Kansas schools are significantly underfunded, threatening the quality of education our children are receiving wherever they may reside in our state.

In my response to Governor Brownback’s State of the State Address on Jan. 10, I said, “I believe the task of creating a new school finance formula should’ve started already since the temporary two-year block grants will expire at the end of this school year.”

In fact, in 2015, shortly after the enactment of the block grant system, I requested an interim school finance formula study committee. Knowing this system of school funding would be temporary and inadequate, I proposed that the committee be responsible for reviewing Kansas school finance formula history, analyzing other state’s formulas, and discussing things to consider for a future formula. My request was denied.

Instead, Republican leaders approved an interim committee that discussed topics related to K-12 education, but provided no constructive recommendations for a school finance formula to replace the block grant system.

I also said on Jan. 10, that “a new formula must provide adequate and equitable funding so as to end the school finance litigation we have endured for entirely too long.” Yet, there has been no discussion of a school funding plan in the Kansas Senate this session.

With the deadline set by the Kansas Supreme Court of June 30 looming, Governor Brownback and Republican legislative leaders must stop playing political games. It is time to get serious about fully funding our children’s and grandchildren’s education.

You’re only in first grade one time. You’re only a senior in high school one time. We have to get this right, and we have to do it right now. The future of Kansas children depends on it.


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