Archive for Thursday, November 4, 2010

District’s ‘Fair Funding’ lawsuit filed

November 4, 2010

The general election wasn’t the only item of major note occurring Tuesday. Attorneys with Schools for Fair Funding filed a lawsuit against the state of Kansas in Shawnee County District Court in Topeka.

The lawsuit alleges the state is underfunding public education to the point of being unconstitutional and as a result, Kansas children are being deprived of their right to a proper education, according to a news release sent out Tuesday by Schools for Fair Funding.

Bonner Springs-Edwardsville USD 204 Superintendent Robert VanMaren announced Monday during the district’s board meeting the lawsuit would be filed. The district is one of 63 districts throughout the state of Kansas represented by Schools for Fair Funding. USD 204 joined up with Schools for Fair Funding last school year, paying $2 a student, or about $4,976, to join. VanMaren said the district hasn’t paid anything to Schools for Fair Funding yet this school year.

The case is expected to go to trial in late 2011, according to the news release, and VanMaren said after the board meeting it was a necessary step for schools to get the funding they need. According to the district’s website, USD 204 has already seen a cut in state aid of $1.8 million since 2009, with more cuts expected in the 2011-2012 school year.

“If the state wants us to provide quality education for all students in the state of Kansas, I think it’s essential,” VanMaren said of the lawsuit. “If they’re going to meet the state Constitution in Kansas, then it’s required.”

A similar and highly- publicized lawsuit was brought against the state in 2005 and resulted in a close to $150 million increase for state schools. During that case, the Kansas Supreme Court threatened to close all public schools if the Legislature didn’t pony up the $148.4 million increase ordered by the court.

Also on Monday, the board:

• Unanimously approved adoption of the agenda.

• Unanimously approved minutes from the Oct. 18 meeting.

• Unanimously approved warrants totaling $424, 224.74.

• Heard an update about parent teacher conferences. VanMaren said surveys taken by parents after the conferences, which were held a couple of weeks ago, were largely positive.

“Over 90 percent of the surveys were positive,” VanMaren said. “(Parents) were basically saying that kids are learning in schools, doing a good job, they have the stuff that they need.”

VanMaren also pointed out that between 87 to 93 percent of families in the district now have Internet at their homes, which makes taking the surveys more convenient as parents can fill them out online. He said 10-12 years ago, that number was less than 50 percent.

• Broke for executive session, after which no action was taken.

• Approved all one-year contracts but tabled any contracts that were for more than one year to a later meeting, so as to allow the board to discuss them further.

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