The Prairie Village city council this week approved a 2018 legislative platform that again calls for the return of local control on issues like setting property taxes and restrictions on possession and transportation of firearms.
The platform, which is adopted each year ahead of the start of the legislative session, signals to the state officials who represent parts of the city which issues the governing body considers to have the most significant potential impact on the city’s ability to successfully operate. For the past several years, the platform has been developed in conjunction with Johnson County government, which approves a similar document.
Improved funding for public education is high on the list of issues the city would like to see the state address for the upcoming year as well — though at least one member of the council expressed concerns with the way the platform item dealing with public education was worded.
Brooke Morehead, who represents Ward IV on the council, asked that the council add the word “responsible” to the platform item calling for “adequate” funding for public education, indicating that she believed K-12 funds were not properly allocated and that the school system was not actually underfunded.
“I think the word adequate is very subjective. I’m thinking that the resources are not responsibly distributed as they could be,” Morehead said. “I’m just not comfortable rubber stamping…more money for school funding.”
That assertion prompted pushback from some of her council peers, who pointed to the state supreme court’s rulings finding Kansas schools have not received the financing they needed to provide a suitable education to all of the state’s kids.
Jori Nelson, a Shawnee Mission School District teacher who represents Ward I on the council, said the inadequate funding was more than an abstract idea to her.
“Not only has the supreme court said that we are inadequately funded, but living it every day in the classroom with my students, I can assure you that we are not adequately funded to meet the needs of our kids in our public schools,” she said.
The council ultimately agreed on the following language on the school funding measure:
We strongly support constitutionally adequate, equitable, and responsible funding for the public school system. Currently, public schools are underfunded and the City supports a significant increase in the funding of public education. We support a new or reformed school finance formula that is financially sustainable, promotes greater local funding flexibility, and ensures educational excellence. We oppose any further reduction in school funding, including any constitutional amendment releasing the legislature from this important duty.
The full platform is embedded below: