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. 

Michael B. / flickr Creative Commons

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed a school aid bill Wednesday that Kansas lawmakers hope will satisfy the state Supreme Court's ruling to fix equity issues in education financing.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo, from Wichita, is not ruling out a run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by fellow Republican Jerry Moran.

Pompeo blasted the Kansas senator after Moran called for hearings on a Supreme Court nominee, then changed his mind. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, the harsh words fueled talk that Pompeo might challenge Moran.

Moran changed his position on holding hearings after facing criticism. Pompeo called it a “tardy conversion.”

Phil Moyer, flickr Creative Commons

Officials from northeast Kansas met on Tuesday to review response plans for a possible outbreak of the Ebola virus.

More than 50 people from local governments, health agencies and law enforcement gathered for the exercise. Shawnee County Emergency Management Director Dusty Nichols says they have plans in place, and these types of agency reviews help them determine if the plans will work.

The month of March was short on moisture, and now drought is creeping across much of Kansas.

Assistant State Climatologist Mary Knapp says March is normally a wet month, so last month's dry conditions had a big impact.

“Because it's the start of our wetter pattern, things go down very, very quickly when we don't get what we should be seeing,” Knapp says. “If we are dry in April and May, then we are going to be increasingly in bad shape.”

The school funding debate in the House chamber got heated on Thursday. Republican John Whitmer criticized Democrats who were opposing the plan. He said they had not offered a proposal of their own. Whitmer said Democrats have wanted additional funding for schools, but haven’t suggested where to get that money.

That prompted this response from Democrat Tom Burroughs.

“We value Kansas schools, we value Kansas teachers and we value legislators who are willing to work on part of that. You, sir, are an ideologist, a politician,” Burroughs says.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The Kansas House and Senate approved a school funding plan before adjourning for their spring break. The votes send the bill to Governor Sam Brownback for consideration. The Kansas Supreme Court threatens to close Kansas schools if lawmakers don’t reduce funding inequalities.

The bill redistributes state money to reduce funding disparities between Kansas school districts. It makes sure no district loses overall state support, and some districts would get a boost. Legislative leaders believe the plan complies with the court and ensures stable budgets for schools.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

The full Kansas House and Senate could take up school funding proposals on Thursday that are a response to a state Supreme Court ruling. Justices say lawmakers need to reduce inequalities between districts or they could shut down schools. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, legislators are hoping to get a bill approved fast before they leave for a month-long break.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers are considering a new education funding plan that school districts are both praising and criticizing. The proposal shifts money between districts to reduce funding disparities. It also moves some money from another fund to make sure no district loses overall state support. Shawnee Mission School District Superintendent Jim Hinson appreciates that no districts would lose out.

“This bill allows us to have stability during very uncertain financial times, which is extremely important for us,” Hinson says.

Stephen Koranda

Committees in the Kansas House and Senate have advanced school funding plans designed to address a state Supreme Court order. The court told lawmakers to fix unconstitutional funding disparities between districts, or public schools would be closed this fall.

These new proposals redistribute funding and add a small amount of money to make sure no district loses overall state support.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Kansas lawmakers have introduced a new school funding plan that tries to fund school districts more evenly without costing any of them money. Previous plans had redistributed money and left some districts with less overall funding.

Lawmakers are trying to find a way to reduce disparities between school districts following a Kansas Supreme Court ruling. The bill would redistribute state funding and tap an existing extraordinary needs fund. Republican Senator Ty Masterson says stakeholders made it clear that no district should lose money.