Goddard school employees this week exceeded their own expectations by raising $10,950 to join a lawsuit against the state over education funding.
Most of the 72 districts used local property taxes to pay to be included in the litigation by Schools For Fair Funding.
Goddard staff agreed to the fundraiser after district and union leaders said there wasn't enough money in the operating budget to pay the fees for the lawsuit, said Dedria Crain, an English teacher at Goddard High School.
They organized a Jeans 4 Kids campaign that gave employees the opportunity to wear jeans for a month if they donated $25 toward the litigation fees.
"All teachers that (were at a union meeting) thought it was a great idea," Crain said. "There was not one of us who wouldn't pay $25 — and wear jeans for a month."
The school board voted Monday to dedicate the $10,950 to joining the litigation for two years. This school year's fee is about $5,000.
The lawsuit is expected to be filed by late summer and could take years to resolve.
Because the lawsuit challenges the state's funding of K-12 schools, the outcome will affect all Kansas school districts, not just the roughly one-quarter of the 293 total districts that have paid to participate.
But it's important to Crain that Goddard, a suburban district of more than 5,000 students, be one of the supporters.
"A lot of districts think of us as the rich schools in the area," she said. "I like the fact it shows we would fight for the underdog as a team player, even though the perception might be things won't impact Goddard (as much)."
Since 2006, districts statewide received part of the $756 million in increased state funding that was in response to a lawsuit filed by about a dozen districts.
Schools say the state fell short of a funding agreement made in 2006 by cutting K-12 education by roughly $300 million since January 2009.
Districts that join the litigation show they support a change in the school funding system, said John Robb, lead attorney for Schools for Fair Funding.
"If nobody stands up and chooses to be part of the solution, there is no solution," he said.