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Kansas School Funding Plan Makes Fast Progress, Garners Support Of Several Large Districts

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio

A school funding plan has been making fast progress in the Kansas Legislature, passing out of both House and Senate committees Thursday. The proposal will cut the general state aid all school districts receive by .5 percent, then redistribute that money to assist poorer school districts.

It also takes funding from several other places for a total of $38 million. Republican Sen. Ty Masterson believes the bill can win legislative and judicial approval and prevent schools from shutting down.

“Quite frankly, I see this as the only viable option. These negotiations have been so sensitive. I see no other path,” says Masterson.

Some districts that stand to lose money said they would support the proposal.

Several wealthy districts in Johnson County will lose overall funding, which will go to assist poorer school districts. The superintendent of Blue Valley Schools, Todd White, says they’re willing to compromise and accept the bill in order to keep schools from closing.

“Our time is short. We have less than a week to comply with the court’s mandate. We’ve got circumstances in this state regarding state revenues that we cannot overcome in a week’s time,” says White.

Other school district officials aren’t so sure about the plan. Basehor-Linwood School District board member Dayna Miller says they’ve barely had any time to consider the impact of the bill since it was only unveiled Thursday.

She says the public hearings didn't include enough input from affected school districts.

“Only the larger districts were the ones that kind of weighed in on this. I would very much like to hear from some of the smaller districts, also,” says Miller.

The latest plan provides more aid to less affluent school districts to reduce property tax disparities.

As the Kansas News Service managing editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. Email me at skoranda@kcur.org.
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