Some of Johnson County’s leading school district and business officials ended up with egg on their face during last week’s special session over school funding.
Ultimately, the right thing was done: The Kansas Legislature on Friday evening endorsed a plan put together and pushed by moderate Republicans and Democrats to try to constitutionally fund K-12 schools, as ordered by the state Supreme Court.
The people who deserve credit for that include Johnson County GOP Rep. Melissa Rooker, Stephanie Clayton and Barbara Bollier.
But to get to that positive outcome, a proposal put forward by extremist GOP leaders had to be dramatically changed.
It called for a half-percent cut to all school district budgets for the coming year, including the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley districts. The goal was to find a way to help finance a $38 million fix to statewide funding for Kansas schools.
That new reduction should have sent Johnson County’s school district leaders into orbit because together their schools already had been slated to lose a few million dollars even before the new half-percent cut idea came along.
Instead, Superintendents Jim Hinson of Shawnee Mission and Todd White of Blue Valley did not vociferously object to the new measure. Hinson wrote a letter to GOP leaders that said the half-percent cut could be put in place “if necessary.”
Johnson County chamber officials also stood by rather mutely.
The schools’ willingness to cave to pressure from Republican leaders especially frustrated Rooker because she and others were pushing a new funding plan that did not cut the half-percent from schools.
Fortunately, the moderate GOP members and Democrats killed the other bill. Their proposal eventually was signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback — no thanks to some of Johnson County’s school and business leaders.