In the early hours of Friday morning, the Kansas Senate passed a school finance bill.
Its purpose is to address the March ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that public schools in the state are not being funded equitably.
In a 23 - 17 decision, legislators approved what could amount to $80 million in new funding for public schools throughout the state.
In order to fill that purse, the plan looks to increase local taxes and cut costs in certain areas, such as the education of at-risk students and school transportation.
An approved amendment to the bill also looks to cut costs; introduced by Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, the addition will effectively block funding for Common Core Standards in Kansas. The Kansas State Board of Education approved the nationally benchmarked standards for reading and math in 2010. They’ve been the subject of debate by educators, parents and legislators ever since.
Diane DeBacker, Kansas Commissioner of Education, says that removing the standards this early would place an unneeded burden on schools already teaching the standards.
“Especially with these standards being at a much higher level and a different way of teaching and learning – you’re only three years into them, but you’re deep into those three years,” DeBacker said.
The Kansas House also introduced a bill amidst the debates in the Senate. Like the Senate version, it increases funding through local taxes, but does not have the added defunding of Common Core Standards. It was passed on Friday afternoon and garnishes the approval of Gov. Sam Brownback.
The two plans will face additional debate before either is set before Gov. Brownback.