Stephen Koranda

Contributing Reporter

Stephen Koranda reports on the Kansas Legislature, state government and everything else for Kansas Public Radio. He previously worked in Mississippi and Iowa, where he covered stories ranging from hurricanes to state executions. 

Stephen Koranda

Updated June 27, 2016: Gov. Sam Brownback signed Substitute for House Bill 2001, which aims to satisfy a mandate from the Kansas Supreme Court to correct inequities in school funding. The bill increases state funding for poor districts by $38 million for the 2016-17 school year by diverting funds from other parts of the budget as well as redistributes funds from wealthier districts. Brownback says that signing the bill ensures that Kansas schools will remain open.

“I appreciate the hard work of legislators which began prior to the start of the session in a series of meetings," Brownback said in a press release. "The effort to bring together legislators, educators and attorneys resulted in a bill supported by all parties and a stipulation by plaintiff’s attorney that House Bill 2001 satisfies the equity portion of this litigation."

Brownback also congratulated House Speaker Ray Merrick and Senate President Susan Wagle for "an efficient and focused special session."

Chris, flickr Creative Commons

A new plan to fund public schools got a big boost today when some districts that stand to lose money said they would support the proposal.

Several wealthy districts in Johnson County will lose overall funding, which will go to assist poorer school districts. Todd White, superintendent of Blue Valley Schools, says they’re willing to compromise and accept the bill in order to keep schools from closing.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File Photo

A school funding plan has been making fast progress in the Kansas Legislature, passing out of both House and Senate committees today.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

The Kansas budget director says the state may take additional highway funds and delay a school payment to balance the budget for the current year. June is the last month of the fiscal year, and Budget Director Shawn Sullivan says tax collections could come up short.

Sullivan says Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration could take $16 million in highway funds and up to $45 million in Medicaid fee funds to help cover a budget shortfall.

Jim McClean / Heartland Health Monitor

The chairman of the Kansas Senate’s budget committee says lawmakers have a preliminary school funding plan. Legislators return to Topeka today for a special session. As Stephen Koranda reports, they’ll respond to a state Supreme Court ruling that says there are unconstitutional disparities in the school funding system.

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson didn’t release many details, but he says the plan would shift $38 million into a certain type of Kansas school funding that reduces disparities among districts.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and other officials toured the Guantanamo Bay detention center last week.

Christopher Sessums, flickr Creative Commons

Representatives of five school boards in Shawnee County are asking Kansas lawmakers for a quick resolution to the school funding dispute.

Patrick Woods, president of the Topeka Public Schools Board of Education, says they want lawmakers to go back to the old formula for reducing certain disparities among districts. That will cost nearly $40 million.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Kansas lawmakers will return to the Statehouse later this week for a special session focused on education spending, and they’ll have to overcome some significant divisions to reach an agreement. The state Supreme Court says they need to reduce inequalities among school districts by the end of the month or schools could close.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Legislative experts are available to answer questions about the Kansas special session.

Cindy Roupe is with the State Library of Kansas, which operates a legislative hotline. She says librarians can provide information such as how to contact a legislator, what bill numbers are being considered and how the legislative process works.

“Because if you don’t deal with this day-in and day-out, you don’t really understand what a conference committee does, how a conference committee works. We can help them through that process,” Roupe sats.

alamosbasement, flickr Creative Commons

The clock is ticking for Kansas lawmakers to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling. The court says if lawmakers haven't reduced inequalities by the end of the month, schools could be closed.

Legislators are considering how to respond, and as Stephen Koranda reports, one disagreement is whether wealthier districts should be protected from losing any state aid.

    

A so-called hold harmless provision would make sure no Kansas school district loses overall state support. Republican Rep. Erin Davis calls the issue vitally important for her area of Johnson County.

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