Public education advocates painted a bleak picture of funding trends for education in the state during a public forum Saturday at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.
“It’s very gloomy,” said Mark Desetti, director of legislative and policy advocacy for the Kansas National Education Association.
Desetti was one of three panelists who spoke to a crowd of about 60 at the event sponsored by the Douglas County Democratic Party. Kathy Cook, executive director of Kansas Families for Education, and Vanessa Sanburn, Lawrence School Board member, joined Desetti on the panel and expressed similar sentiments.
Sanburn focused on the declining per-pupil state funding figures over the past few years. Since 2009, per-pupil funding has dropped more than $600 in Kansas, including a reduction of more than $200 this past year.
“These cuts have been very painful,” Sanburn said. It all leaves teachers working harder with less resources, she said.
The panelists also predicted some heavy political battles looming for the next legislative session. Cook predicted that Republican lawmakers will make a strong push for school voucher initiatives, as well as potential changes that might ask local municipalities to raise a larger share of revenue for education.
Cook warned the public to be wary of such moves that may be based on politics, but not what’s best for Kansas students.
“Reform many times is a coded word,” she said.