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School Funding Bill Brings $10M To Wichita Public Schools

Wichita Public Schools

Updated: Kansas schools will be able to keep their doors open and the threat of a potential statewide shutdown is over. The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a bill passed by lawmakers last Friday and signed by Governor Sam Brownback on Monday, fixes inequities in school funding between rich and poor districts.

Now, the court will move on to the larger question of whether the Legislature is providing adequate funding to schools, which officials say could involve hundreds of millions of dollars. A date for those arguments has not been set.

Original story: A bill signed Monday by Gov. Sam Brownback to increase state aid to poor school districts gives about $10 million in additional funds to Wichita Public Schools. The bill aims to satisfy a mandate by the Kansas Supreme Court that lawmakers make funding equitable across the state.

The bill increases overall funding to low-income districts by $38 million. The money came in part from the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority. Funds were also taken from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Children’s Initiative fund.

Jim Freeman, CFO for USD 259, say the increased funding won't give Wichita Public Schools more spending power, but it will provide roughly $5.4 million in property tax relief. He says the additional aid is a positive thing for the district.

“If you go back to 2009 or 2010, we have been shorted about $72 million over the past seven years because of that equity problem,” Freeman says.

The extra money won’t affect any budgeting decisions that have already been made for the upcoming school year, such as the shortened academic year or the consolidation of the district's alternative schools, he says.


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