education funding

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

A divided K-12 Budget Committee passed out a school funding plan for Kansas schools that essentially nobody likes.

J. Schafer / KPR/File photo

When Kansas lawmakers started this legislative session in January, most agreed that comity was back, partnerships would be forged and work would get done.

That was then, and this is now.

A trio of challenges remain as the Legislature on Sunday passed the 90-day mark in its session: a budget, a tax plan and a school funding formula.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Another long committee hearing, another day without a Kansas school finance bill.

The committee chairman, Rep. Larry Campbell from Olathe, kept saying all week the panel would kick out a school funding plan by Friday.

It didn’t happen.

After spending most of the afternoon on two amendments, Campbell adjourned the committee and moved its deadline to Monday.

The committee did approve an amendment that puts more money into at-risk student funding, a contentious issue that passed by one vote.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the name and date of the Mock v. State of Kansas court case. The timeline of litigation and legislation has been clarified.

The Kansas Legislature isn’t close to coming up with a school funding formula.

However, lawmakers are working with a bill that looks a lot like the formula they scrapped in 2015 for block grants.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

An attorney advising the Legislature met with Senators Monday to discuss school funding issues. Lawmakers need to write a new funding formula before ending the session. Former Republican state Sen. Jeff King briefed lawmakers on what might satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court.

Lawmakers need to comply with the court, which says the current Kansas school funding system is inadequate. King said lawmakers could tie funding to some sort of index, like the inflation rate, so funding goes up over time.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Educators and some lawmakers weren’t sure which Jeff King they were going to hear from Thursday.

Would the House K-12 Budget Committee hear from the conservative former Senate vice president who pushed through block grants and tried to defund the courts? Or would they hear from a constitutional lawyer with experience litigating school finance cases in Kansas?

Turns out, it was the latter.

“I don’t think there’s anything he said that really threatens where the bill is going,” said Mark Tallman, the top lobbyist for the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Today lawmakers working to craft a new Kansas school funding formula hear from their lawyer about whether the proposal they’ve been working on all session is constitutional.

The bill the House K-12 Budget Committee has on the table includes $750 million in new money for schools over five years. The committee’s lawyer, former state Sen. Jeff King, will weigh in on whether that’s enough to satisfy the state’s high court.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman from Olathe suggests the price tag could actually be much lower.

Kansas News Service/ File Photo

A Republican leader in the Kansas Senate says he’ll propose a fee on all utility bills in the state to help fund education.

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, a Republican from Overland Park, says his plan calls for a $3 monthly fee on residential electric, gas and water bills in the state. Those with all three utilities would pay $9 more a month. For commercial customers, the monthly fee would be $10 per bill.

The whole package would raise $150 million a year, Denning estimates.

Stephen Koranda / KPR

Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran met with state education officials this weekend to talk about federal issues. Much of the discussion focused on spending cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

There are concerns about whether the money in the Kansas school finance bill awaiting legislative action will be enough to satisfy the state Supreme Court.

But educators were happy to see that the current proposal includes a million dollars for teacher mentoring each year. The money would help districts pay senior teachers for mentoring younger educators.

Olathe Assistant Superintendent Alison Banikowski says mentoring is a proven way to keep first-year teachers in the profession.

Pages