Governor Sam Brownback invited education leaders and the public to help change the education funding system in Kansas in a live press conference on Wednesday.
"It is time for us to work together to develop a school funding system that works for Kansas students, their parents and educators," he said. "I look forward to hearing from educators, parents, administrators and stakeholders from across the state. The time for school finance reform is now."
Brownback encouraged interested groups to send their ideas on what they want to see in schools, what they think must be funded, more than dollar amounts and formulas.
A letter has been sent to more than 50 school districts and organizations seeking input as well. The ideas and proposals can be sent to StudentsFirst@ks.gov until Nov. 30.
The governor was joined by Jim McNiece, Chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education, and Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson in the conference.
"We appreciate the governor giving us the opportunity to represent the needs of Kansas' K-12 education system," Watson said. "The work of our schools and the needs of our students have changed tremendously over the years, and we need a funding system that is responsive to these changes. Last October, we launched our Kansans Can initiative to reach the state board's goal that Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. Creating a new funding system is a critical step toward achieving that vision."
Brownback said the timing behind the invitation is due to the block grants, a measure that froze state aid to districts, ending this school year.
"Half of what we spend is on K through 12 education," he said. "It's critically important for the state to come up with a new system."
He said he would not discuss extending the block grants.
"Let's focus on getting a new system in place," he said. "That's a very big task, but it's time to do it."
He added he can't anticipate how the courts will rule on adequacy in the ongoing Gannon v Kansas case.
The lawsuit filed in 2010 by the parents of more than 30 students and the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City school districts against the state touches two major issues -- whether the state's total spending is adequate, the adequacy piece, and whether the money is distributed fairly among poor and wealthier school districts, the equity piece.
A three-judge panel concluded the state had not met either the equity or adequacy requirements.
Earlier this year, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld in large part the lower court decision regarding equity. The Legislature responded by meeting in a special session to address the issue. The high court found the new law which increased aid to poor school districts constitutional.
Oral arguments before the high court on adequacy are set for Sept. 21.
According to the Associated Press, the Republican governor and the GOP-controlled Legislature expect to write a new school funding formula next year.