Schools and education

Free State High students to compete in regional poetry competition
04:16 p.m., March 27, 2015 Updated 09:36 p.m.
Emotional, empowering stories from the lives of Lawrence students will sound out from a Kansas City stage this weekend. Free State High School’s slam poetry team recently earned a spot in Saturday’s finals of the KC “Louder than a Bomb” competition.
Plaintiffs seek to block new Kansas school funding plan
01:31 p.m., March 26, 2015 Updated 10:52 p.m.
Plaintiffs in an ongoing school finance case asked a three-judge panel in Topeka on Thursday to block implementation of a new school funding plan that Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law Wednesday. By Peter Hancock
KU receives grant to study student information systems
March 26, 2015
Kansas University is looking to see whether the software that public schools use to track student information is being used effectively.
New school finance plan draws guarded support
05:19 p.m., March 24, 2015 Updated 09:57 p.m.
A bill that would phase in a new kind of school finance formula over the next three years drew guarded support from some school districts and surprising interest from some education groups during a legislative committee hearing Tuesday. By Peter Hancock
Senate committee to hear proposal for new school finance formula
05:59 p.m., March 23, 2015 Updated 10:51 p.m.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, has introduced a new school finance formula that would return the state to a per-pupil funding system, but would significantly change the kinds of weightings used to provide additional money for higher-cost students and districts. The panel will hold a hearing on the bill Tuesday. By Peter Hancock
Schools struggle to bring students, teachers to rural Kansas districts
March 23, 2015
More than two-thirds of Kansas’ school districts are classified as rural by the U.S. Department of Education, and another quarter are town districts. Together they educate just over half of the state’s students. Yet many face challenges related to low enrollment, to their distance from cities or to serving wide swaths of land, and to budget cuts linked to the 2008 recession and the state’s 2012 cuts to income tax.
School board candidate profile: Shannon Kimball
March 22, 2015
Kimball, 41, is seeking her second term on the Lawrence school board after winning a seat in 2011 and spending this school year as the board’s president.
School board candidate profile: Jessica Beeson
March 22, 2015
Jessica Beeson, the director of alumni and community engagement for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Kansas University, is one of seven people hoping to be elected to the Lawrence school board April 7.
School board candidate profile: Ronald Gordon-Ross
March 22, 2015
Right up on there on Ronald Gordon-Ross’ bucket list, along with visiting Venice and flying in a jet fighter, is serving on a local school board. Gordon-Ross, 40, is one of seven people hoping to be elected to one of the four four-year terms on the Lawrence school board on April 7.
School board candidate profile: Lindsey Frye
March 22, 2015
Lindsey Frye, a denied medical claims collector for Apria Healthcare, one of seven people running for a four-year term on the Lawrence school board April 7.
School board candidate profile: Bob Byers
March 22, 2015
Bob Byers, an employee in the state social work department for about 30 years, is one of seven people running for a four-year term for the Lawrence school board April 7.
School board candidate profile: Jill Fincher
March 22, 2015
Jill Fincher, a member of the Lawrence Schools Foundation, is one of seven candidates running for four four-year terms on the Lawrence school board on April 7.
School board candidate profile: Rick Ingram
March 22, 2015
In 2011 Rick Ingram was elected to the Lawrence school board for the first time, and now he’s running again, along with six others, for four spots, each worth a four-year term.
Panel rejects bill to repeal Common Core in Kansas
02:03 p.m., March 20, 2015 Updated 04:00 p.m.
A bill that would have immediately repealed the state’s current academic standards for reading, math and other subjects failed to get out of a House committee on Friday, greatly diminishing the chances that Kansas lawmakers will address the issue. By Peter Hancock
Kansas school districts ask court to reject state’s appeal
March 20, 2015
School districts suing Kansas over education funding are asking the Kansas Supreme Court to keep their entire lawsuit before a lower court.
Recent Kansas school finance actions raise several constitutional questions
07:07 p.m., March 18, 2015 Updated 10:00 p.m.
A Kansas University law professor says recent actions by the Kansas Legislature and a district court raise numerous constitutional questions. Professor Rick Levy said the result could be another showdown between the legislative and executive branches over who decides how much funding schools should get. By Peter Hancock
School board questionnaire: Jessica Beeson
March 18, 2015
Jessica Beeson, 38, is the director of alumni and community engagement for Kansas University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She also works as a lecturer for KU’s leadership studies minor and for the African & African-American Studies Department. She has served on the Elementary Facilities Task Force and the Superintendent’s Advisory Council in past years.
School board questionnaire: Bob Byers
March 18, 2015
Bob Byers, 60, served on the board from 2009 to 2012. He was appointed to the board in June 2014 following the resignation of Keith Diaz Moore. Byers is an administrator for the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
School board questionnaire: Jill Fincher
March 18, 2015
Jill Fincher, 47, is a board member for the Lawrence Schools Foundation, which raises money for the district. She has also served on boards for the Lawrence Public Library, the Ballard Center and several parent-teacher organizations for Lawrence schools. She manages a family business based in British Columbia.
School board questionnaire: Lindsey Frye
March 18, 2015
Lindsey Frye, 34, is a denied medical claims collector for Apria Healthcare in Overland Park. She is also a member of New York Elementary’s parent-teacher association and site council.
School board questionnaire: Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross
March 18, 2015
Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross, 40, is a health care IT professional. He volunteers at Prairie Park Elementary School and served on the district’s Elementary School Facility Vision Task Force, which was charged with studying how to make schools more efficient.
School board questionnaire: Rick Ingram
March 18, 2015
Rick Ingram, 60, was elected to the board in 2011 and spent the 2013-14 school year as its president. He works as a professor of clinical psychology at KU. He also sits on the district’s Boundary Advisory Committee, which recommends changes to school attendance zones.
School board questionnaire: Shannon Kimball
March 18, 2015
Shannon Kimball, 41, was elected to the board in 2011 and currently serves as its president. She works as an attorney with a focus on legal and policy issues relating to public schools.
2015 Lawrence school board election: Final candidate profiles, questionnaires
March 18, 2015
Get ready for the 2015 Lawrence school board general election on April 7 by reading up on the candidates and comparing their answers to a Journal-World questionnaire. Stories by Elliot Hughes
Supreme Court asked again to review school finance ruling
02:53 p.m., March 17, 2015 Updated 10:17 p.m.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is again asking the state Supreme Court to review a three-judge district court panel’s decision that held current funding of public schools unconstitutional. The appeal comes one day after the Legislature passed a bill repealing the current funding formula and replacing it with a system of block grants to schools. By Peter Hancock
Lawmaker suggests school finance case could affect judicial budget
03:04 p.m., March 16, 2015 Updated 10:23 p.m.
Rep. Jerry Lunn, R-Overland Park, said during a committee hearing that the budget for state courts could be cut if the courts order the Legislature to spend more money on public schools. By Peter Hancock
Kansas Senate to decide path on school finance overhaul
07:42 p.m., March 15, 2015 Updated 01:19 p.m.
The Kansas Senate is expected to decide Monday how it wants to deal with a bill overhauling the state’s school finance system. Senators could simply vote to concur with the House bill, which would cut off the possibility for any amendments. But a three-judge district court panel has already indicated it could step in to block the legislation. By Peter Hancock
Kansas House narrowly passes Gov. Brownback’s school funding overhaul
10:20 a.m., March 13, 2015 Updated 08:52 p.m.
The Kansas House gave final passage Friday to a bill that radically overhauls the way schools are funded in Kansas, but it took more than two hours — and a special flight on a state plane — to corral all the legislators needed to send the bill to the Senate. By Peter Hancock
Lawrence school board candidates see a new elementary or middle school coming soon
10:06 p.m., March 12, 2015 Updated 10:56 p.m.
A majority of the candidates running for five seats on the Lawrence school board believe the district will need to make a large investment in improving Lawrence High School and build either a new elementary or middle school within the next 10 years. By Elliot Hughes
Kansas House advances GOP school funding plan
08:38 a.m., March 12, 2015 Updated 10:56 p.m.
After several days of intense arm-twisting, Republican leaders in the Kansas House mustered enough votes Thursday to advance a bill that makes sweeping changes to the way the state funds its public schools. The Lawrence school district stands to lose about $1.6 million in state funding under the plan. A final vote is expected Friday. By Peter Hancock

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