Legislation ensures schools will stay open for 2016-17
The new 2016-2017 school year will continue as planned after state lawmakers passed a school finance bill to avoid a threat by the Kansas Supreme Court to shutdown public schools at the end of the month.
The new education funding plan boosts aid to school districts by $38 million, it was reported.
Lawmakers met during a special session on Thursday and Friday last week, passing the new bill Friday evening. The bill first passed the Senate with a 38-1 vote after less than 15 minutes of discussion, and then passed the House, 116-6.
The new education bill reportedly takes funds from the planned sale of assets of the Kansas Bioscience Authority to cover $13 million in state aid to public schools. Additional funds are being tapped from motor vehicle fees and the state’s share of a national legal settlement with tobacco companies from the 1990s.
Overall revenue to fund the new school finance plan comes from the following sources:
• Funding from the sale of Bioscience Authority Property and Assets – $13,000,000.
• Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds – $10,500,000.
• Transfer vehicle modernization funds to the extraordinary need state aid fund – $5,000,000.
• Fund Pre-K pilot program with TANF (Temporary Cash Assistance For Needy Families) – $4,100,000.
• Freeze funding for full-time virtual students at the 2015-2016 level - $2,700,000.
• Reduce extraordinary needs state aid program – $2,200,000.
Legislative researchers said 77 of the state’s 286 districts would lose some aid, 169 would gain and 40 would see no change.
The bill now goes to Governor Sam Brownback to be signed.
Earlier this month, Gov. Brownback called lawmakers back to Topeka for a special session to address the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling that the state’s funding formula for public schools was inequitable.
The Kansas Supreme Court gave the Legislature a June 30 deadline to fix the budget, which they say said was unfair to small, rural schools.
In 2015, lawmakers changed the funding formula from a per-pupil distribution with weighting standards for rural schools to a system of fixed block grants.