TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Senate has approved a bill that would phase in an increase in spending on public schools of roughly $234 million over two years.
The vote Wednesday was 23-16. The measure goes next to the House, but the House has its own plan to phase in a $285 million increase over two years. Negotiators for the two chambers are likely to draft a compromise.
Legislators are responding to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in March that education funding is inadequate. The state spends about $4 billion a year on aid to its 286 local school districts.
Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley doesn’t believe the bill will satisfy the courts ruling.
“I believe this bill is inadequate in terms of the overall funding. I don’t think it’s going to meet with favor by the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Hensley.
However, lawmakers on the other side of the aisle think differently.
Republican Senator Barbara Bollier voted yes for the bill.
She says it isn’t a perfect plan, but is the best option going forward.
“The definition of perfect doesn’t exist. What’s perfect is that every school, child, in this state, have opportunity to reach their best potential,” said Sen. Bollier.
Alan Rupe, an Attorney with Schools for Fair Funding believes both plans won’t satisfy the Supreme Courts demands.
“Both plans are woefully short of what the Kansas State Board of Education deemed necessary to adequately fund public schools for Kansas kids,” said Rupe.
Rupe says he hopeful the legislature will adopt an adequate plan, but says he isn’t optimistic.
“The clock is ticking, I think we are absolutely going to head to a special session, especially if they approve any version that has already been approved by the House and Senate, it’s just not enough,” said Rupe.
The deadline for the state to come up with a plan to fund schools is June 30th.
If nothing is done, Rupe says, there won’t be any constitutional funding for schools and they will be forced to shutdown.