Shawnee District Court Rules in Favor of Kansas Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2015

Contact: David A. Smith, chief of staff, (913) 279-2242

A three-judge panel of the Shawnee District Court has once again ruled in favor of Kansas school children in the Gannon vs. State of Kansas school funding case. In an 87-page document released today, the court found House Substitute for Senate Bill 7, known as the block grant bill, unconstitutional in providing equitable and adequate funding for Kansas school children.

Here are some of the key points in the decision:

  • The court found the block grant bill entirely unconstitutional as to adequacy noting that it “stands, unquestionably and unequivocally, as constitutionally inadequate in its funding.”
  • The court found the block grant portions relating to the funding of the equity mechanisms unconstitutional.
  • The court avoided striking the entirety of the block grant bill in order to have some funding mechanism in place for the upcoming school year.

“This ruling has profound significance for the future of our students and students throughout the state,” said Dr. Cynthia Lane, superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS). “This decision again reinforces the truth that the legislature has a constitutional obligation to provide adequate and equitable funding for all Kansas children. We are confident that the Kansas legislature will take the necessary steps to fulfill their constitutional obligation.”

The block grant bill was passed by the legislature in March of this year, cutting an additional $50 million in funding for schools across Kansas, and freezing funding levels for schools for the next two budget years. These reductions were on top of the cuts that school districts across the state have seen for the past seven years. The court, in its decision, noted that the changes put in place by the block grant bill could cost the district more than $3 million in funding for new students.

District officials are still evaluating the impact of the decision, and will need to wait to see how the state will implement the court’s order. Nevertheless, the decision is good news for the 22,000 children in KCKPS.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

South Branch Library Closing Early Today

December 13, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David Smith, chief of staff (913) 279-2242

South Branch Library located at 3104 Strong Avenue, KCK, is closing early today, effective now, 2:00 p.m., December 13, due to a water main break in the area.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

Schlagle Teacher Receives Kansas Horizon Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tammy Dodderidge, communications manager, (913) 279-2225

Jenny Prater, Horizon Award recipient

Jenny Prater, math teacher at F.L. Schlagle High School, has been named a 2014 Kansas Horizon Award recipient. The award, administered by the Kansas State Department of Education, recognizes exemplary first-year teachers who perform in a way that distinguishes them as outstanding. Prater is one of only 32 teachers from across the state to receive the recognition.

"This means she is one of the best teachers in the state," said Commissioner of Education Diane DeBacker. "She has the ability to connect with students and the ability to make math come alive. She is an outstanding teacher."

Prater is challenged by students who struggle with math. In fact, she asked to teach those students when she came on staff. She takes an unconventional approach to teaching and it has resulted in engaging students from the beginning of the class period to the end. She uses educational games that she developed to engage them including "Mrs. P Says" (her version of Simon Says) and a math-specific version of "Catch Phrase," plus songs and jingles to help students retain information. Where appropriate she will physically dress the part to illustrate a math point. For example, at Halloween, she came dressed as a graphing calculator.

Schlagle Principal Dr. Maritza Paul said students see her as a "math goddess."

"Never have I seen a first year teacher so unafraid to grow and connect herself to the school community," Paul said.

Prater works with the Literacy Leadership Team, leads the celebration of First Fridays for 9th grade achievement and models instruction in the Math Professional Learning Community.

One student said of her, "She is a role model for us. She is very special."

Prater and other Horizon Award winners will be recognized individually during a luncheon during the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN) conference in Topeka on February 21. She also has been invited to participate as special guest in the two-day KEEN conference, which will take place February 20-21.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

Notice of Time and Place of Special Meeting - June 18, 2015

June 12, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David Smith, Chief of Staff, (913) 279-2242

A special meeting of the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education is hereby called for Thursday, June 18, 2015, at 3:00 p.m., in the Board room on the third floor of the KCKPS Central Office and Training Center, 2010 N. 59th Street, Kansas City, Kansas.

In addition to regular business itemized in the published agendathe purpose of such special meeting shall be to interview candidates and fill by appointment the vacant unexpired term oVictoria Meyer.

Dated this 12th day of June 2015 .

Susan E. Westfahl
Clerk of the Board

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242

State Trying to Balance Budget on Backs of Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 9, 2015

Contact: David A. Smith, chief of staff, (913) 279-2242

As they struggle through the 110th day of a 90-day session, the Kansas Legislature is once again considering major cuts to education funding across the state. These cuts would have a devastating effect on the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, reducing funding for the 2015/16 school year by $10.8 million (which would be on top of the more than $2 million in cuts the district has already received.)

“We were shocked when we heard that cuts of this magnitude were being discussed,” said David A. Smith, Chief of Communications and Governmental Affairs for the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. “These proposed cuts, which come on top of reductions that came with the switch to Block Grant funding, would be devastating.”

In March, Governor Sam Brownback signed legislation that eliminated the school finance formula, and replaced it with a plan for Block Grants, which froze funding at 2014/15 fiscal year levels for the next two years.

The current cuts are being proposed as the Kansas Legislature tries to close a more than $400 million budget deficit. So far, numerous proposals to raise the sales tax in order to close the deficit have failed in the Legislature by wide margins.

“Kansas has always been a state known for its strong public schools,” Smith said. “Now, in publications across the country, Kansas is being identified as a prime example of how NOT to budget. While the rest of the country is clear that the reason for the current deficit is the irresponsible tax cuts passed in 2012, the Kansas Legislature continues to talk about balancing the state budget on the backs of its most vulnerable citizens, its children.”

While the district has no contingency plan to deal with cuts of this magnitude, Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Lane intends to discuss the issue with the Board of Education at its regularly scheduled meeting tonight, Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 5:30 pm at the Central Office and Training Center, 2010 N. 59th Street, Kansas City, Kansas.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242