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State Lawmakers In Kansas Struggle With School Funding

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Stephen Koranda
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Kansas Senate Committee Advances School Funding Proposal

A Kansas Senate committee has advanced a plan to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling on school funding. The court says disparities between districts must be reduced by this summer or justices could close Kansas schools.

The Senate plan doesn’t add any new money for Kansas schools, it simply shuffles funding around. That means some districts get more money and some lose out. Republican Senator Ty Masterson says he doesn’t like the plan much, but he believes it complies with the court ruling.

“We are under the gun. They’re saying ‘distribute it the way we want you to distribute it or we close the schools.’ This is simply taking a response to that and saying OK,” Masterson says.

Democratic Senator Laura Kelly says this is rearranging inadequate amounts of funding. She calls this response to the court cynical.

“Telling them this is the best you’re going to get from us. We’ll follow what we think is the letter of the law that you laid down. We’re certainly not going to operate in the spirit of the law,” Kelly says.

The plan will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Kansas House Committee Shoots Down School Funding Plan

Republicans on a Kansas House committee shot down a school funding proposal on Thursday. The plan would have added and redistributed money to reduce funding disparities between school districts. The Kansas Supreme Court says lawmakers must address disparities by this summer or schools could be closed. Several Republican lawmakers criticized the bill for going back to an old system for equalization. Representative Marc Rhoades says that formula can’t fix funding disparities.

“No amount of money will do that. The idea that we can equalize all the schools is fatally flawed foundationally. As long as we’re having that discussion, we are chasing our tail,” Rhoades says.

The Kansas Senate did advance a bill to address the court ruling. It would simply redistribute school funding without adding any new money.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.