Amid talk of constitutional change, local legislators affirm support for school funding

From left, Melissa Rooker, Barbara Bollier and Stephanie Clayton the night of their elections to the Kansas House of Representatives in November.
After a recent story we ran regarding the possibility of a proposed constitutional amendment in Kansas to alter the article on school finance, several readers asked us if we would ask our local legislators how they would vote on such a proposal. We did.

Overall, Sen. Kay Wolf and State Reps. Barbara Bollier, Melissa Rooker and Stephanie Clayton, were reluctant to speculate about a bill that has not been introduced and for which they have seen no proposed language. That said, each re-affirmed a commitment to public schools and to adequately funding public schools.

The original story dealt with Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle’s statement that leaders are considering a constitutional amendment (requires a two-thirds majority in each house and majority in a state-wide election) that would derail a court-ordered increase in school funding. The state is appealing that ruling.

“I am now and always will be a public education advocate as proven by my voting record of the last seven years,” Wolf said. “I believe it is the state’s responsibility to provide a ‘suitable’ education as mandated by the state constitution, Article 6.” Wolf said she would not vote to weaken the educational system. “I pledge to protect our children’s educational right by making decisions based on fact and input from educators and constituents.”

Rep. Bollier said she would want to read actual language, “but in a general sense, I have always supported our current constitution and adequate funding for our schools.” She said a super majority will be more difficult in the House this session.

“The voters of the 19th district,” Clayton said,” made it expressly clear to me during the course of my recent campaign that fully funding Shawnee Mission schools was a top priority, and I will vote accordingly.”

Rooker said her support for public schools “has always been, and will continue to be, unwavering and I believe the state has a duty to provide appropriate funding.” She suggested we post a link to a Kansas PTA brief on public education in the Kansas Constitution.

Rooker also announced plans for a constituent survey and a town hall meeting in February with details to come.