By Anne Meyer
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
9:10 PM CDT, June 28, 2012
Testimony is expected to wrap up Friday in a lawsuit over school funding. Several school districts, including USD 259, are suing the state claiming current funding levels are not enough to meet the needs of students.
Wichita principal Amy Hungria took the stand this week to testify before the three judge panel.
Hamilton middle school is still weeks away from welcoming back students, but Hungria is already preparing to do more with less.
"Every time we lose a person because of cuts, we are increasing class sizes," Hungria said.
Funding cuts in recent years have forced her to cut several teaching positions, clerical staff, an assistant principal, and her school resource officer. Plus Hungria has combined positions.
"Along with cuts, my full time librarian teaches two sections of classes right now," Hungria said.
She says losing people is tough in a school like Hamilton. It's one of the poorest in the state. 96% of students at Hamilton qualify for free or reduced lunch. One-fourth need special education classes, another fourth speak english as a second language.
"We are dealing with some additional needs of our students that have to be addressed, and it does require people, it requires resources," Hungria said.
This fall will be even more challenging. Hamilton ended the school year with 524 students, this year they are projecting 663 students. Which is why Hungria testified about her situation in Topeka.
"I spoke from the heart, I was very passionate when I spoke to the judges," she said.
Three judges will decide if lawmakers need to provide more funding for schools to meet educational standards. Opponents say money won't fix the problem.
No matter what the judges decide, Hungria has to prepare for classes to start.
"We are going to continue to do our job, we will continue to do the work," Hungria said. "It just becomes more difficult and more challenging and we have to be more creative with resources to make it happen."
Hungria is hoping one day she'll have more resources to work with.
The judges have heard three weeks of testimony so far. They are expected to make a decision before the start of the 2013 legislative session.
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