Kan. lawmakers meet for end of session as school funding problem still looms

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TOPEKA, Kan. -- With a deadline looming that threatens to shut down Kansas public schools, lawmakers are meeting at the capitol Wednesday for the ceremonial end of the legislative session.

Some are saying it's going to take a special session to get this problem fixed.

"The good news is we didn’t go the full 90 days in regular session," said Sen. David Haley, a Democrat representing Wyandotte County. "So what the leadership will say as we go into this anticipated special session is that we haven’t even expended the 90 days that the constitution proscribes."

The Kansas Supreme Court last week ruled that legislative action to redesign education funding did not resolve inequities in how Kansas distributes money to schools.

As part of the scheduled last day of the legislative session, there is chance that lawmakers could take up the school funding formula again. But Republican leaders have said that lawyers need more time to review the court decision, which was released Friday. And some are even talking about defying the court by doing nothing.

"I’m not aware that a decision has been made but it is possible," said Mark Tallman of the Kansas Association of School Boards. "Although this is called ceremonial, they can do business and if the leadership wants to bring something forward they could have a debate and do something today."

For school districts, there's a lot of work that typically takes place during the summer -- maintenance and repairs to buildings -- that are on hold until educators know what their budget will be.

Lawmakers face the difficult task of trying to provide more money to poor school districts, without taking away money from other schools that already are looking at budget cuts.

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