There wasn’t much time to spare.
Almost everyone in the State Capitol seemed to know it during Thursday’s special legislative session — from the lawmakers working inside to find an education funding solution before the state supreme court’s June 30 deadline, to the educators, parents and children who protested outside what they saw as a temporary fix for the state’s problems.
Some marched chanting “shame!” while others carried signs. Some demonstrators said they thought whatever solution state leaders came up with would only be a Band-Aid, or temporary fix.
“We’re fighting for the rights of our kids,” said Vonda Morris, a teacher from the Shawnee Mission school district. “Someone has to have their back, and it’s not (Gov. Sam) Brownback.”
The bills presented in the statehouse Thursday did not include hold harmless money, a measure that would have made sure counties like Johnson did not lose any funding. Legislators and officials repeatedly said it was unlikely a bill including hold harmless money would be deemed constitutional by the state’s supreme court. Johnson County officials advocated last week for the hold harmless money to be included in the state’s revised education plan.
“Well it’s important that we have a compromise position that Johnson County did lead in front of,” said Rep. Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican. “...I can’t thank our local community enough, from Johnson County, for stepping up to make sure there’s schools that remain open this fall.”
Erica Massman, a parent from the Johnson County group Stand Up Blue Valley, said it’s important for the voters to pick pro-education candidates in the August primary election. The court also has to follow the constitution, she said.
“Obviously I’d like to keep the funding, we are a pro-Blue Valley School District group, but Blue Valley voters need to start voting in a different way if they want their students to have money,” she said. “And they can do that on Aug. 2.”
As the legislators discussion continued late into the morning, parents and their kids continued marching around the capitol, booing whenever Brownback was mentioned and chanting “do your jobs” to the legislators, who were just steps away.
Kyle Stadalman, a fifth grade teacher from Eudora, took a break from the rally to show his daughters around the Capitol building. The 33-year old parent said the solution presented Thursday was “better than nothing.”
“This will be a Band-Aid,” he said. “This is a pretty long fight.”