GOP: Use public dollars for private schools

Conservative Republican lawmakers on Wednesday tied funding for Kansas’ public schools to a proposal that would allow parents of academically struggling students to use state dollars to pay for private schooling.

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April 8, 2021 - 8:42 AM

The rare stumble for Republicans capped a day in which they passed or forged deals on legislation to ban transgender girls and women from school sports, allow teenagers to carry concealed guns, install NRA-backed school curriculum, and require students to pass a civics exam before they graduate. (TREVOR HOAG/IOLA REGISTER)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Republican lawmakers on Wednesday tied funding for Kansas’ public schools to a proposal that would allow parents of academically struggling students to use state dollars to pay for private schooling.

Republican negotiators for the state House and Senate drafted the final version of legislation that would set up education savings accounts for students who are at-risk of failing in public schools, using tax dollars normally earmarked for those schools. Parents could use the state funds to cover a wide range of educational expenses to help their children, including tuition at private schools. 

The measure is part of an education bill that also includes Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposal to provide $5.2 billion in state aid to public school districts for the 2021-22 school year, a 5.3% increase in line with laws enacted in 2018 and 2019 to boost education funding. The laws complied with Kansas Supreme Court rulings in a school finance lawsuit that remains before the justices.

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