Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2004

Capitol trip proves an enlightening one

April 1, 2004

A trip to the state capitol in Topeka last week provided one local woman an enlightening glimpse into the world of politics.

Patty Dickinson, a Basehor resident and mother of two children in the Basehor-Linwood School District, joined a group of parents, teachers and administrators from the school district in lobbying Leavenworth County legislators on educational issues last Wednesday.

"I very much felt like the process works and we were heard," Dickinson said. "To be honest, it works better than I thought it would."

Representatives from other school districts in Leavenworth County, as well as pro-education groups from Jackson and Brown counties, joined the Basehor-Linwood contingent. Education groups such as United School Administrators and the Kansas National Education Association organized the sessions.

The Basehor-Linwood group met with Leavenworth County legislators and watched a House vote Wednesday. Dickinson said after speaking with legislators, she thought Leavenworth County's state representation was well tuned to the problems faced by schools across the state.

"I felt all of Leavenworth County's representatives and senators were pro-education," she said.

Education funding, which constitutes more than half the state budget, is at the center of the legislative agenda this year.

Unlike the previous two legislative sessions, there is no threat of a school funding reduction. There is, however, a fear among educators in the state that legislators will either deny proposals giving more money to education or maintain the current spending level.

Last Wednesday, the Basehor-Linwood group watched the House vote on an education bill that would have allowed 16 Kansas counties to vote on property tax increases specifically for education funding.

The bill, which passed a preliminary vote the day before, failed during several separate votes Wednesday.

Dickinson said the vote provided an interesting view into the political world. Legislators were constantly debating the measure, and when they weren't debating publicly, they were on the telephone discussing it, she said.

Dickinson said she was pleased to be part of the group and that school officials were proactive in meeting with the legislators Wednesday as well as throughout the session.

"I don't know that this is in their job description, but I think them spending time on this and doing this makes a difference," Dickinson said.

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