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Impact of funding fight on students and teachers

Posted: 8:57 PM, May 31, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-31 23:35:26-04

On Wednesday, the Kansas legislative session will wrap up in Topeka likely without a resolution for school funding. 

On Friday, the courts ruled that the revised school funding formula was still not equitable and maintained that schools will shut down if the disparities are not resolved by June 30.

"It's weighing very heavy on me. On one hand I want to spend my energy supporting our legislators and trying to help them find the solution to this. But at the same time, we have to be prepared," said Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools Superintendent Cynthia Lane. "What does it do to summer programming? What happens to special education services that are year round?" 

KCKPS provides more than 4,000 meals to students every day during the summer months. That too could be in jeopardy if schools are forced to close.

Lane added, "That's the question that we'll be asking the courts to clarify. If they shut down schools, will we have access to paying any of our bills, including paying salaries of teachers and all the other staff? We don't know." 

"At this point in time it's almost a foregone conclusion that there will be a special session of the Kansas legislature to respond to the court order that was put in place earlier in the year," said Kansas State Sen. David Haley, who represents Wyandotte County. "It has to be disconcerting to look at what your future is and know that it's been drastically changed by politics." 

Another concern is the salaries of teachers. Out of the 1,600 teachers in KCKPS, 900 opted for the lump sum payment. That means they will receive all of their summer pay on their June check. For those who didn't opt in, it's unsure if and how they will be paid in the event of a closure.

With a month to go before the deadline Lane is hoping for a solution but emphasized. "I anticipate that we may get down to the wire before those solutions are brought forth."

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Dia Wall can be reached at  dia.wall@kshb.com.

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