Legislators advance first part of school funding fix



March 23, 2018 - 11:00 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas lawmakers on Thursday advanced the first piece of a plan to satisfy a state Supreme Court mandate on public school funding, a bill designed to make the distribution of education dollars fairer to poorer areas.

The bill’s approval by a special Senate committee on school finance came on the 69th day of the Legislature’s scheduled 90-day annual session and represented the first significant movement on the biggest issue facing lawmakers this year. The full Senate expects to debate the measure next week.

The Supreme Court ruled in October that the state isn’t spending enough money on its public schools to provide a suitable education to every child, as required by the Kansas Constitution. The court also ruled that parts of the formula for distributing more than $4 billion a year in aid favor wealthier districts.

The measure makes the fixes sought by the court on the fairness issues, but it does not significantly boost spending on public schools. Lawmakers expect the debate over how much to increase education funding — and how to pay for any increase — to be far more contentious.

“This is a sign that we are going to continue to march forward,” said the Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a conservative Louis-burg Republican and the committee’s chairwoman.