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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

House GOP leaders introduce school finance plan, policy changes

March 24, 2014, 1:40 p.m. Updated March 24, 2014, 5:52 p.m.

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— House Republican leaders Monday introduced a school finance plan that they said would provide $129 million to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court order to provide equalizing funds to help poor districts.

"It's a starting point," said House Majority Leader Jene Vickrey, R-Louisburg. He said the House Appropriations Committee would probably start considering House Bill 2774 Tuesday afternoon.

The measure would also make numerous policy changes in the operation of public schools.

For example, it would loosen standards for teacher licensing; increase the number of innovation districts that can operate outside of some state rules for schools; and establish a student performance commission appointed by the Legislature and governor.

The bill does not include a provision to expand charter schools, which some House Republicans had sought last week.

GOP leaders said the $129 million would include new funds and transfers of current budget revenues.

"The mix is still in flux," Vickrey said.

Earlier Monday, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, criticized Republicans for trying to link school finance with other policy issues.

"This is a no-brainer of sorts," Davis said. "There is a simple solution here and that is to pass the bill that I introduced that would fund the $129 million, and do it as a clean bill. That's what the court wants us to do."

On March 7, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that said cuts the Legislature has made since 2009 in aid to poor school districts were unconstitutional because they created wealth-based disparities. It ordered the Legislature to restore those funds, about $129 million, or find some other way to make funding equitable.

The court also remanded back to the lower court the larger question of whether overall funding for public schools is unconstitutionally inadequate. The lower court previously ruled that it is, and it ordered the Legislature to increase base state aid to schools by about $450 million.

On the Senate side, a deal to resolve equity issues in the school finance system seemed far away.

"There are just so many different, conflicting conversations going on, and with different members," said Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, who chairs the Senate budget committee. "I just don't feel like we're in a position yet."

Masterson said he hopes the committee can produce a bill by the end of the regular session, which is scheduled for April 4.

"I don't believe we can come to a full conclusion of what the response should be (by that date), but we should have some position," he said.

Comments

Devin Wilson 9 months ago

KISS* Keep It Simple, Stupid Let's stick to the task at hand, and keep all the other issues separate.

James Howlette 9 months ago

Yeah, but the House always forgets the "Simple," part of that saying. They just keep it stupid.

Phillip Chappuie 9 months ago

there is no KISS in ALEC except from the membership base.

Richard Heckler 9 months ago

Why vote republican ever again in Kansas? For nearly 12 years this reckless example of fiscal responsible republicans has been slowly but surely defunding our public schools. How dumb can it get.

And the governor Sam ALEC Brownback cannot be trusted. Sam Brownback has been working for ALEC since day one he was elected to the house and then the senate. Sam Brownback is dishonest.

Phillip Chappuie 9 months ago

Establish a student performance commission appointed by the Legislature and governor?

I believe that is called the Kansas State Board of Education, composed of elected persons from the various districts. The Governor has his conservative stank finger in too many pots as it is. He is attempting to broaden his personal control yet again.

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