USD 465 Staff, Parents, and Community Members,
On May 27, 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court gave the Kansas Legislature until June 30, 2016, to correct the constitutional inequities created by the most recent school funding formula known as the CLASS (Classroom Learning Assuring Student Success) Act. The Supreme Court ruling on the school finance case says it would not allow money to be “raised, distributed or spent” under a school funding system that is inequitable. It is not yet clear whether districts will be allowed to use reserve or other funds to keep their districts operating, even on an interim basis, should the court order a shutdown. The USD 465 Board of Education will discuss the potential and a plan for shutdown at the June 13th BOE meeting.
For Kansas public schools, including the Winfield public school system, it is time to prepare for the worst – the strong potential for a school shut down on or after July 1st. At the same time, we continue to hope for the best. USD 465 would echo a statement made by the Kansas Association for School Boards and the United School Administrators of Kansas:
“All sides in this dispute, including school boards and administrators across the state, want to avoid any disruption to public education in Kansas. Shutting down the school system on July 1 would have disastrous effects on our fine public schools and state. In its ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court said the Legislature has solved part of the problem in declaring that capital outlay is constitutional. We strongly urge our elected leaders to continue working on providing a constitutional system for all of our students and resolve this issue as soon as possible.”
Although there are many unknowns, failing to address this issue by the July 1 deadline could have immediate consequences on Winfield students, employees and the larger community. Some of those consequences, to name only a few, may include:
No doubt, the consequences of a shutdown could be far reaching with significant impact on Winfield children, USD 465 employees, our local community, and the people and businesses across the State of Kansas. In truth, little is known until the Courts actually order such and provide guidance that better defines what is required in a shutdown.
Under the Kansas Constitution, the legislature is responsible for suitable provision of finance – making sure schools have adequate and equitable funds to operate. It is our hope Kansas legislators and the Kansas Supreme Court will act in the best interest of Kansans to keep schools open and avoid many potential unintended consequences.