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School districts wait for cues from state
new slt school Reed
Brad Reed

 Great Bend USD 428 and other school districts are waiting to see whether the Kansas Legislature can correct K-12 fund inequities ahead of a June 30 deadline set by the Kansas Supreme Court. A special session starts June 23, and if the deadline is not met the justices noted possible closure of the education system.

Great Bend Superintendent Brad Reed said he believes a school shutdown is unlikely.

“I think the Legislature will come up with the funding that the court has asked for,” he said. “I’m really hopeful that we won’t have to address that,” he said of the threatened shutdown on July 1.

However, he expects funding issues to continue.

It will cost approximately $38 million more in state funding to narrow the gap between poor and wealthy school districts highlighted by the Supreme Court, the Associated Press reports. However, it would take another $12 million for a hold-harmless provision protecting wealthy districts that would lose money as a result of the redistribution.

While $38 million is less than 1 percent of the total school budget, funding issues will become more difficult in the future, Reed said.

“This time next year, the Legislature will need to come up with $738 million,” he said. “The real showdown is going to be next year. The legislators are going to have a large problem to solve when they meet next year.”

Meanwhile, Great Bend USD 428 continues to plan for the 2016-2017 school year. Negotiations on teacher contracts – known as Interest-Based Bargaining, or IBB – have wrapped up except for setting salaries.

The school board will have a special meeting at 7:30 a.m. on June 30 at the District Education Center to close out this fiscal year. That meeting is expected to last no more than 20 minutes. The board has also scheduled a study session from 5-7 that night. One of the items board members will look at that evening is examples of different superintendent evaluation forms as they consider changing from the current form.