education funding

Kansas education groups are gearing up their political activities ahead of the Aug. 5 primary election, putting their money and energy behind state House candidates that support public schools.

Organizers say teachers view recent changes in teacher licensing and loss of administrative due process as an attack on their profession.

The Kansas National Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, has more than $400,000 to spend this election cycle. Other organizations are going door to door to boost turnout for pro-education candidates.

A panel of Kansas judges ruled yesterday that a new education funding law complies with a state Supreme Court mandate to increase aid to poor public schools.

The panel in Shawnee County District Court declined the state’s request to dismiss all the claims from a 2010 lawsuit that questioned the fairness of the state’s school funding formula, however.

A panel of three state-court judges in Shawnee County District Court is reviewing a new education funding law to decide if it meets a state Supreme Court mandate to boost aid to poor school districts.

The Supreme Court ruled in March that past cuts in state aid for poor schools created unconstitutional gaps in funding between them and wealthier districts.

In April, lawmakers increased aid to poor districts by $129 million dollars for the next school year. The panel will consider whether that action is sufficient to meet the mandate.

On Monday, the Kansas National Education Association--or KNEA--promised to file a state-court lawsuit against a new law that eliminates teacher tenure in public schools.

The KNEA represents 23,000 educators in Kansas.

The measure was attached to a school funding bill that takes effect in July.

The law increases state aid by 129 million dollars for poorer school districts, in order to comply with a Kansas Supreme court ruling that found Kansas was not adequately funding its schools.

The union strongly objects to the tenure provision of the bill.

While on his trip in Western Kansas Wednesday, Governor Brownback was met by teachers protesting a new state law eliminating tenure.

Brownback traveled Wednesday to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays to re-enact his previous signing of a bill naming two official state fossils.

Outside the museum, about 25 teachers and retired teachers protested the anti-tenure law.

The tenure repeal was part of a school funding bill Brownback signed Monday to meet a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to boost aid to poor districts. It will take effect in July.

Updated at 12:40 on April 21, 2014: Gov. Brownback announced in a press release on Monday that he has decided to sign HB 2506. The bill addresses school funding equity issues pointed out in a Kansas Supreme Court decision.

A deadline is approaching for Governor Sam Brownback to make a decision on whether to sign a bill on spending for Kansas’ public schools.

The state Legislature narrowly backed a bill last night that would boost funding to poor school districts and eliminate tenure for teachers.

Teachers wearing red shirts looked on in protest as 63 House members - the minimum needed - voted in favor of the bill, while 57 voted against it.

Hours earlier, the Senate approved it with a 22-16 vote. It needed 21 votes to pass.

The bill now heads to Governor Sam Brownback, who has already released a statement praising it.

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Senate has advanced a plan to respond to a state Supreme Court ruling on education funding.

The court said lawmakers created inequalities between school districts by cutting certain types of education funds.

The bill would shift money into funds aimed at reducing those disparities.

Dollars would be moved from school transportation as well as other areas of the budget. Senator Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, said they are prioritizing spending.

The House Appropriations Committee has revised its school funding plan to be more generous in providing aid to local school districts.

The State Supreme Court ruled in March that lawmakers created inequalities between school districts by cutting education funds.

The bill is designed to satisfy the ruling’s call to increase funding.

It contains an additional $141 million dollars in aid for those districts for the next school year.

Stephen Koranda

The Kansas Senate will debate an education funding bill on Thursday, while a similar bill has hit a snag in the House.

The bills are a response to a state Supreme Court ruling saying Kansas created inequalities between wealthy and poorer school districts when lawmakers cut education funding.

Leaders in both chambers had been planning to hold debates on Thursday.

Both bills use a mix of new money and dollars shifted from other areas to try to comply with the court ruling and reduce disparities between districts.