NEJC legislators react to latest Gannon ruling, say they are eager to work toward education funding solution

Kansas-Statehouse

The members of northeast Johnson County’s legislative delegation had similar reactions to the Shawnee County three-judge panel’s ruling yesterday that the block grant bill signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback this spring failed to address the adequacy and equity issues brought up by the now-famous Gannon case.

Here are the statements each legislator sent us Friday evening:

Rep. Barbara Bollier: “Although I have not had a chance to read the entire judgement yet, I know that this ruling is a win for our children!”

Rep. Stephanie Clayton: “I look forward to the opportunity to find a stable, sustainable, and constitutional solution to the Kansas school funding crisis.”

Rep. Jarrod Ousley: “I have not had the opportunity to read the 87 page opinion yet. However, I voted against the block grants as they underfunded districts and gave a legislature completely hostile to our public schools the authority to rewrite the public education funding formula. It is my hope that this ruling will give us an opportunity to revisit the funding debate, so we can make sure children in Kansas have the access to the same excellent schools their parents did. I am thankful for our system of checks and balances, and thankful for the Kansans who came before us who protected education in our state constitution.”

Rep. Melissa Rooker: “While it is too soon to predict the next steps in our school funding dilemma (other than the almost certain appeal by the state), I am pleased that the court ruling today affirmed what many of us have been saying all along – our schools have suffered significant budget cuts, and the consequences are putting our children at risk. We have a constitutional duty – and a moral obligation – to get this right, to ensure that all of our children have access to a good quality education. I will offer a more thoughtful analysis in my correspondence as soon as I have had time to properly digest the ruling and consult with experts, but for now I will say that I am pleased by the ruling and welcome the opportunity to get this right for the sake of our children.”

Sen. Kay Wolf: “There’s a lot of finger-pointing going on in Topeka at this point. But, I’m anxious for that to subside so that we can get to the heart of the matter. I will be studying the court’s decision more thoroughly over the next few days in order to get a understanding of the judicial branch concerns. It’s my hope we can all work together to make sure our schools are fully funded in a way that meets the court’s expectations and, most importantly, the expectations we have as parents and grandparents.”

We also put out a note to the Shawnee Mission School District seeking comment on the ruling. District spokeswoman Leigh Anne Neal said that because district officials had not yet read the ruling in its entirety, they were not prepared to comment. On Monday, however, Superintendent Jim Hinson said he could not have foreseen an outcome from a ruling in the Gannon case that would impact the district’s ability to move forward with its plan to eliminate all day kindergarten fees and elementary school textbook fees.