Education was a hot topic in the recent midterm election and now education advocates want political leaders to make good on their promises.
“When I said on the campaign trail that I’m running to be the education governor, I meant it,” said Governor-elect Laura Kelly on Election Day.
Kelly made education a top priority in her campaign, as did many candidates on both sides of the aisle.
Education spending accounts for more than 61 percent of the state’s budget.
During the last legislative session, lawmakers voted to add more than $500 million to pay education over the next five years.
Legislators added the money in response to a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that said some schools in the state were under-funded.
That’s a move that Topeka Public Schools school board and also president of the Kansas Association of School Boards Patrick Woods says he hopes lawmakers won’t go back on.
Woods said the increases in funding allowed the district to hire more counselors and give teachers an eight-percent pay raise.
“[The raise] was long overdue but [teachers] had gone years and years without increases or with minimal or inadequate increase due to lack of school finance commitment from the state,” said Woods.
Mark Tallman, who represents that Kansas Association of School Boards, said she would like to stability as Governor-elect Kelly and the new legislators take office.
Tallman said he wants support to continue for the state school board’s “Kansans Can” program and other initiatives.
“We’d like to say let’s let the system that we’ve put in place work,” said Tallman. “If we’re always turning around saying ‘this year we’re going to measure things this way, and we want you to do things that way,’ that’s not very helpful to the education system.”
Both Tallman and Woods said that want the new administration and lawmakers to ensure that future education funding accounts for changes in inflation.
The legislature reconvenes for the 2019 session on Jan. 14.