school funding

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.

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

House and Senate leaders had told Kansas lawmakers to be ready to work over the weekend, but Friday they decided to head home, putting off tax and budget work until next week.

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.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Wichita Public Schools is hopeful the Kansas Legislature will develop an adequate school funding formula when lawmakers reconvene next month. However, the district says it needs to prepare if that doesn’t happen.

Wichita Public Schools

The Wichita Public Schools board is considering making more changes to the district’s calendar.

Last year, the board lengthened the school day by 30 minutes and shortened the school year by 15 days as a way to cut millions of dollars from its budget.

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