NE Kansas school officials react to public funding decision

It’s a waiting game that has millions of dollars on the for your child’s education.

After the Kansas Supreme Court ruling saying public school funding across the state is unconstitutional, a superintendent who was involved with the lawsuit hopes he’ll be able to bring back some programs that were cut.

While Santa Fe Trail High School students get this set ready for play rehearsal, the halls are empty. In fact, they’ve been like that after school for quite some time.

“In 2008 we cut nearly $600,000 to $700,000 from the district budget,” says Superintendent Steve Pegram.

Pegram was a plaintiff in the public school funding lawsuit. He says the cuts reduced staff, after school programs and community centers. He says it’s all because in 2008 the Base State Aid Per Pupil, or a mount of money the state gives districts per student, was reduced by about $600 per kid.

“We were under the impression that it was a short term deal, we would take our hits like everybody else, the economy comes back, everything else should go down the road,” Pegram says, but adds that it never happened.

One of the biggest losses so far, Pegram says, is their after school programs for at-risk students. He hopes if they end up getting more money next year, they’ll be able to fill up the hallways after school once again.

“What it really means is we could do some extra things for the kids that need it,” he says.

But first, two things need to happen. The Kansas Legislature has to figure out how to fix two funds to make them constitutional, capital outlay, which goes to buying and repairing buildings and the local option budget, which is the amount districts put in from their property taxes. Then the district court has to decide how much the state will increase the Base State Aid Per Pupil.

“We need more counselors, we need more social workers we need more classroom teachers, we want to go to reduce class sizes,” says Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Julie Ford, “Parents want that for their students.”

The Supreme Court gave legislators until July 1st to decide on the capital outlay and local option budget.

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