Archive for Thursday, July 14, 2005

Local teacher group works with legislators in session

July 14, 2005

Victoria Davids, a reading specialist at Basehor Elementary School and president of the Association of Basehor-Linwood Educators (ABLE), didn't hear from many local teachers concerned they wouldn't receive their paychecks on time.

In fact, she didn't hear from any.

"We go out and have a job and bills that need to be paid," Davids said, "but education is a calling, not a job."

Last week, the Kansas Legislature ended its stand-off with the Kansas Supreme Court by approving a $148.4 million spending plan, thus drawing to a close an embattled 12-day special session. All told, the Legislature approved $290 million in additional money for schools; a $142 million measure was approved during an earlier session.

In June, the state Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to increase school funding because the court viewed the public aid system unconstitutional. The order prompted a stand-off during the special session with conservative lawmakers telling the court it had no authority to order elected representatives to make appropriations.

After the Legislature failed to meet the court's July 1 deadline, the court threatened to cut off funding to schools in an attempt to force the legislative body's hand. In the end, the court agreed with the Legislature's action, but said it views it as a short-term solution.

Davids said she and Basehor-Linwood officials worked closely with area legislators leading up to last week's decision. She said some representatives in Leavenworth County were willing to wait to see what the court would decide before acting.

She said her organization is relieved the court intervened on behalf of the public school system.

"I'm glad somebody else saw there was a need, somebody not inside that wasn't going to benefit," she said. "It's just sort of a nice reinforcement to know you aren't wrong.

"The court did exactly what they were supposed to do. They made a ruling based on evidence and that's what the judicial system is supposed to do."

Like school district administrators and their colleagues statewide, Davids said she viewed this year's funding increase as a "good first step." With increasing mandates placed on schools nationwide, more money is required, she said.

"To meet mandates, there are definitely things that have to be done, and those things cost money," she said. She added, "This is a good first step and who's going to benefit? The children."

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