KS Democratic lawmakers call for special session

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jun 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-06 21:05:09-04

If Kansas lawmakers do not pass a new school funding bill in the next 24 days, the Kansas state Supreme Court says it will block state funding, essentially shutting down schools. 

On Monday, Democratic lawmakers sent a petition to colleagues in an effort to force Gov. Sam Brownback to call a special session. The petition demands Brownback call lawmakers to Topeka to address school funding on Monday, June 20 at 10 a.m. 

To be valid, two-thirds of lawmakers must agree. 

Learn everything you need to know about special legislative sessions and how they work by reading the Kansas Constitution and state statutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I think today is they can’t hide behind the governor. They have the power with a signature on a piece of paper as simple as this to provide that Kansas schools are open on July 1,” said Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita. 

While some lawmakers push for a special session in Topeka, parents and teachers in the Kansas City metro area continue to worry about what will happen at the end of the month. 

Lauren Ingraham is one of the many concerned. Ingraham's not only a parent to a daughter going into eighth grade, but she’s also an art teacher at Brookridge Elementary School in the Shawnee Mission School District. During summer break, she typically plans ahead for the next year, but this summer she’s worried about her job. 

“It’s so hard to grasp the concept of schools not opening,” she said. 

Since April, the court has ruled the state’s school funding formula unconstitutional - twice. Brownback and other Republican lawmakers have blamed the court for overstepping its duties and promised to “respond aggressively.” 

CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS: If you would like to contact your state lawmakers on school funding, you can find them by clicking here.

Educators argue teachers are being forced in the middle of this political fight. 

Teachers are “seeing their class sizes increase. We have teachers watching their supports being taken away, many of whom have seen their salaries frozen,” said Mark Desetti, the director of legislative advocacy for KNEA. 

Earlier this year, Brownback announced he would temporarily delay payments to the state’s public pension fund to close the budget deficit. With no plans to call a special session, Ingraham and others tell 41 Action News they are worried about their job security, health insurance and the future of education. 

“I know a lot of teachers are professionally thinking about what would be the best for their career and job security. For me though, it’s more than school to me and more than work,” said Ingraham. 

Last week, Shawnee Mission School District’s superintendent announced the district was not making contingency plans in case of a shutdown. At a press conference, he announced the district is expecting students to return to school on time. 


Kansas lawmakers fail to address school funding court ruling

No sign of work in Topeka on school funding

Shawnee Mission superintendent says schools will open on time despite lawmakers' inaction

Could Kansas school funding fight stop summer meals programs?

KCKPS superintendent speaking out about possible school shutdown



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