WICHITA, Kansas — The Wichita School District Thursday responded to the ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that struck down the “block grant” funding method of financing schools that was enacted by the Kansas Legislature in 2015.
Representatives of USD 259 said in a news release the district is pleased the court “affirmed that access to public education in Kansas should not be determined by a child’s zip code.”
The district said the ruling is affirmation the block grant funding formula does not meet the state’s constitutional standard of equitable access to educational opportunities.
“It is essential that the question of equity in funding be addressed so that children in our classrooms today don’t lose the opportunity to secure their future through quality public education,” said Superintendent John Allison, Wichita Public Schools.
The news release also states,
“The challenge to the Kansas legislature is to craft a suitable solution, though the court left the legislature wide discretion on what that solution should be. We trust that Kansas children will be the focus of their deliberations.”
Lawmakers approved the 2015 law as a temporary fix to replace a per-student formula for distributing state education funds to school in favor of stable “block grants”. The law was meant to give lawmakers time to devise another system for distributing more $4 billion a year in aid to its 286 public school districts.
School district officials said the court’s decision indicates that “a solution to the equity consideration must not be made at the expense of adequate funding. In other words, simply redistributing existing funds will not suffice.”
“We need to prepare them [Kansas school children] for the future that they can step into and if we don’t do that now, the outlook for Kansas continues to be diminished,” said Allison.
Members of the Board of Education were also on hand Thursday to respond to the decision.
“I would love to see them wake up, do what’s right by our students, and let’s move forward as a state,” said board president, Betty Arnold, referring to Kansas state legislators.
Board member Lynn Rogers also responded.
“I do hope they look at it and say, ‘Let’s do what’s best for Kansas kids.’ Period,” he explained.
To read the press release in its entirety, click here.