KASB Conference Countdown: 2000-09 marked by funding battles, No Child Left Behind

In the run up to the 100th annual KASB Conference, Friday-Sunday in Wichita, KASB will overview highlights of education history.

The decade of 2000-09 was marked by intense political battles over K-12 funding that went up to the Kansas Supreme Court and the federal government’s increased reach into local public schools.

After several years of paltry funding increases, in 2000, the School Finance Coalition, which included KASB, recommended a $650 million K-12 increase, while a task force appointed by Gov. Bill Graves came up with a recommended $200 million increase. But the Legislature responded in 2001 with only a $70 million addition.

Meanwhile, on the federal level President George W. Bush signed into law in 2002 a re-authorization of ESEA, called the No Child Left Behind Act, which affected what students were taught, the tests they took and how teachers were trained.

As the school funding battle ensued in Kansas, a legislative-commissioned study by consultants Augenblick & Myers, Inc. recommended the state increase spending to schools by $725 million to attain mandated outcomes at a time when state aid to public schools was approximately $2 billion per year.

In 2005, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the school finance law violated the Kansas Constitution’s requirement that the Legislature “make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” The Legislature approved a total of increase of approximately $285 million in school funding, but a 2006 Legislative Post Audit said $400 million more was needed for the 2006-07 school year.

In May 2006, the Legislature approved a three-year funding plan that increased K-12 funding by $466 million, which the state Supreme Court approved.

But by 2009, with tax revenues tanking during the Great Recession, the state started cutting schools, paving the way for further litigation.

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