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Archive for Tuesday, May 9, 2006

New school plan scheduled for vote

Three-year, $466.2 million plan on the table

May 9, 2006

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A three-year, $466.2 million increase for public schools emerged today as lawmakers searched for an end to the 2006 legislative session.

House Education Committee Chairwoman Kathe Decker, R-Clay Center, said she was hopeful that the proposal would be approved.

"We've done a good-faith effort," Decker said.

Votes in the House and Senate were expected later today during the second longest wrap-up session ever. Today was the 14th day of the wrap-up session, two days fewer than the 2002 wrap-up that lasted 16 days.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled the $3 billion school finance system unconstitutional because of under-funding, especially to large districts with high percentages of low-income students.

The court has told lawmakers to use a cost study to guide their appropriations.

But the plan that will be voted on today falls far short of the cost study that was done by the Legislative Division of Post Audit.

That study called for a $400 million increase next year, while the three-year proposal approved by a House-Senate conference committee would increase funding by $194.5 million next year.

The study called for a $195.3 million increase for programs that serve students who are at risk of failing; the new measure appropriates $49.3 million.

And the Post Audit report called for $53.8 million to be divided between four urban school districts that have a high proportion of poor students. The new plan allocates $22.7 million and spreads that over 38 school districts.

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