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New School Plan Met With Mixed Response

Associated Press - June 24, 2016 4:53 am

Top Republicans hope to push an education funding plan through the Kansas Legislature to end a looming threat of public schools shutting down. But they faced doubts Friday that their fix would satisfy a court mandate.

GOP leaders are pushing a plan to boost aid to poor districts by $38 million for 2016-17, largely by redistributing existing education dollars.

Both chambers could debate the plan Friday, the second day of a special legislative session called by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled last month that the state’s education funding system remains unfair to poor schools. The justices warned that schools might not be able to reopen after June 30 if lawmakers don’t make changes.

Critics contend the redistribution of education dollars won’t satisfy the Supreme Court.

A spreadsheet from legislative researchers shows that nearly half of Kansas’ 286 school districts would see less state aid under a Republican education funding plan.

The plan outlined Thursday would decrease the aid 141 districts had been promised for the 2016-17 school year. The changes would allow Kansas to boost aid for poor districts by $38 million.

Legislators are meeting in a special session to address a state Supreme Court ruling last month that the education funding system remains unfair to poor districts.

The Blue Valley, Olathe and Shawnee Mission districts in Johnson County together would lose more than $6.1 million for 2016-17.

The spreadsheet showed 145 districts gaining aid.

The largest district, Wichita, would gain nearly $8.3 million. Kansas City would gain $1.6 million.

City of Salina