Accord Would Free Mo. From Paying K.C.'s Desegregation Costs After 1999
The state of Missouri has entered a tentative agreement that would free it from having to pay for Kansas City's elaborate school-desegregation program after 1999.
The parties in the Kansas City, Mo., desegregation case announced the accord last month, just weeks after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling absolved the state from having to finance some of the school district's most expansive and expensive desegregation remedies.
Lower federal courts had required the state to help pay for the relatively high teacher salaries and the specialized academic programs that the district offered to make its schools more attractive to white transfer students from the suburbs.
But in a 5-to-4 ruling in June, the Supreme Court held that the courts lacked the authority to order such interdistrict remedies because the surrounding suburban districts had not been found guilty of contributing to the racial segregation of the city schools. (See Education Week, 6/21/95.)
The new agreement nonetheless would require the state to give Kansas City teachers the salary increases they were promised in the coming school year. It also stipulates that the district would receive enough funding to retain its current teacher-student ratio.
Under the plan, the state is to pay the district $110 million--$80 million less than the state originally budgeted--for the coming year's desegregation efforts. The state payments would decrease each year after that and cease as of June 1999.
If, however, the various sides in the desegregation case fail to resolve their remaining differences by next month, then the agreement over state funding can be abandoned. As of last week, the parties had not reached a consensus on an assortment of issues related to the transportation of suburban transfer students and the education of children in the city.
The parties in the case include the state, the district, the chief plaintiffs--the city's black children--and the local affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, which had intervened as a plaintiff because teacher salaries were at issue.
They had reached an accord establishing a framework for the negotiations last winter. (See Education Week, 3/1/95.)