Brownback signs school funding bill; court review next

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Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a measure to increase the state’s funding on public schools in response to a court mandate.

Brownback acted Thursday on the bill, which would phase in a $293 million increase in aid to public schools over two years. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in March that the state’s $4 billion a year in education funding was inadequate.

“The legislature missed an opportunity to substantially improve the K-12 funding system,” Brownback said to KMAN in a release Thursday afternoon. “They did, however, direct more dollars into the classroom by limiting bond and interest aid, encouraging responsible financial stewardship at the local level. Additionally, they included a sunset on the school funding system, allowing for a regular and robust discussion about the needs of Kansas students.”

The court is expected to review the new law.

Attorneys for four school districts suing the state have said they’ll challenge the new law because they believe it still falls hundreds of millions of dollars short of adequately funding schools.

But the justices did not set a figure when they told lawmakers to pass a new school funding law by June 30.

The funding formula has received praise from education advocates across the state. On Wednesday, Kansas National Education Association President Mark Farr told KMAN the bill was “a good start,” although he was critical of the voucher mechanism implemented in the new law.

“It takes into account the different needs different schools have across the state,” Farr said. ‘It takes into account the at-risk students. We believe it’s a fair formula.”

At the USD 383 board of education meeting on June 7, director of business Lew Faust questioned whether or not the Governor would sign the bill into law.

By law, the Kansas governor has 10 calendar days to sign the bill into law, veto the bill or allow the bill to become law without his signature. The Governor has now signed 92 bills into law this session and vetoed three.

 

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