school funding

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.

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.

A special session focused on solving Kansas' nettlesome school funding problem begins Thursday. At stake: school itself. The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened a statewide shutdown of schools if lawmakers don't make funding more equitable before June 30.

It's not an overstatement, then, to say most Kansans will be impacted by what happens in Topeka over the next few days.

As Kansas legislators prepared to head back to Topeka for a special session, KMUW's Aileen LeBlanc sat down with two local lawmakers to talk about the subject of the session: school funding.   

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.

The Vice President of the Kansas Senate says the special session set to gavel in on Thursday will probably stretch into early next week. That would move the Legislature even closer to a June 30 school shutdown deadline, and make the session longer than Gov. Sam Brownback suggested it would take to fix the inequity that exists between rich and poor school districts in Kansas.

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.