LEGISLATURE ADDRESSES SCHOOL FINANCE DURING SPECIAL SESSION


     The special Kansas legislative session dealing with school finance came to a relatively speedy conclusion last week. Early on during the session, the Kansas Senate failed to approve a proposal to amend the Kansas Constitution that, in effect, would have prevented the Legislature or courts from closing schools. Lawmakers later came to an agreement with the plaintiff school districts in the school finance lawsuit, Gannon v. State. Both the House and Senate passed the compromise bill, HB 2001, to satisfy the constitutional concerns of the school finance formula with regard to equity. HB 2001 made no cuts to the general operating budgets of school districts, which was a key concern for lawmakers wanting to avoid another constitutional issue.
     Lawmakers pulled together funds from a number of sources to reach the $38 million required by the court. Those sources include excess money from the sale of the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA); part of the state’s tobacco settlement payment; some federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds (to replace Children’s Initiative Fund money for a preschool pilot program); a reduction in state aid for virtual schools; a transfer of some fee funds from the Department of Transportation; and school extraordinary needs funds if there is no excess money from the sale of KBA.
     Legislative research indicates more than 70 of the state’s school districts will lose some aid; 160 will gain; and better than 40 will see no change. To see how HB 2001 will affect specific school districts, KLA members can click here.


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