Topeka By failing to adopt a school finance plan before adjourning, the Kansas Legislature may have jeopardized Lawrence efforts to implement full-day kindergarten this fall.
"I'll hang on as long as I can, but it doesn't look good," Lawrence school Supt. Randy Weseman said.
"We have to order a lot of materials by the end of April. That's really putting the squeeze on that," he said.
Lawmakers ended their regular session on Friday, but will return for the wrap-up session on April 26 to tackle school finance again.
But even if they reach agreement quickly in the wrap-up session, any plan will have to pass the scrutiny of the Kansas Supreme Court.
The court has ordered increased school funding in compliance with a cost study that says more monies are needed to help students in low-income areas.
- School plans fail in Senate (03-31-06)
- School board is all for all-day kindergarten (03-15-06)
- On the Street: Do you think the benefits of all-day kindergarten outweigh the costs? (03-15-06)
- Funding main hurdle for all-day kindergarten (02-23-06)
- Chat with Randy Weseman, superintendent of Lawrence's public schools (02-22-06)
- Funding for all-day kindergarten encouraged (01-11-06)
- House Bill 2986 (pdf)
- Senate Bill 584 (pdf)
- Senate Bill 501 (pdf)
In the House, Democrats and a group of Republicans who rebelled against their leaders have approved a three-year $633 million increase for schools, which would have covered the costs of all-day kindergarten.
Alan Rupe, an attorney for the plaintiff school districts, said he was "encouraged" by the House plan.
"In terms of how we're analyzing what is done, the House plan would have been a really good faith effort that we would've evaluated," Rupe said.
But that proposal was rejected in the Senate.
The closest plan to gain approval in the Senate was one by Sen. Jim Barnett, R-Emporia. It failed on a 20-20 tie vote.
Barnett's bill would increase school funding $495 million over four years. He criticized more expensive plans, saying they would require tax increases.
But Rupe said Barnett's proposal is "woefully inadequate.
"It's almost as if some in the Legislature, their strategy is to do nothing so they can create a crisis and argue that the courts' powers should be taken away," he said.