Local education advocates ask legislature to finish work on K-12 funding formula, preserve constitution

Judith Deedy (from left), Devin Wilson and Gail Jamison at a press conference at the capitol Tuesday urging legislators to finish their work on the K-12 formula. Photo credit G.A. Buie.

A group of public education advocacy organizations gathered at the capitol Tuesday to urge the 2019 Kansas legislature to finish the work needed to bring the state’s K-12 funding formula in line with the supreme court’s latest ruling on adequacy and equity.

At a press conference yesterday morning, Judith Deedy of Game On for Kansas Schools, the advocacy group that was founded by a group of Belinder Elementary parents, read a statement signed by a collection of pro-public education groups from across the country.

In the statement, the organizations made three requests of the legislature heading into the 2019 session, which begins next week. They are:

  • Adding funding to the existing formula to account for inflation over the past several years, which is the key step to make the current funding formula constitutional outlined by the Supreme Court in its most recent ruling.
  • Maintaining the formula that was developed and approved by the legislature over the past two sessions instead of starting over on a new approach.
  • Preserving the “suitable education” provision of the state constitution laid out in Article 6, and not taking up a potential constitutional amendment to remove or alter that provision.

Deedy said that the court’s June 2018 ruling in the Gannon case, which suggested the addition of around $500 million to the K-12 formula over five years, should serve as the guide for work this winter and spring.

“This ruling is a bright light showing us that we are very close to finally having a fully constitutional school funding formula that stands the tests of both adequacy and equity,” Deedy said. “The way forward is clear.”

Deedy was joined at the podium by Devin Wilson, the Lenexa resident and Shawnee Mission Board of Education candidate who is the legislative chair of the Kansas PTA; and Gail Jamison of Goddard Advocates for Public Education. Shawnee Mission-based advocacy groups Education First Shawnee Mission and the MainStream Coalition were among the statement’s co-signers. Stand Up Blue Valley signed on to the statement as well.

Legislative leaders Jim Denning of Overland Park and Ron Ryckman of Olathe reportedly indicated to Blue Valley School District leaders last month that they did not believe the state could afford the investment suggested by the Supreme Court, and hinted that they may look to start from scratch on the development of a K-12 formula.

Rep. Tom Cox of Lenexa was among those at the capitol who attended the event: