Kansas lawmakers have given final approval to a plan that would increase aid to poor school districts and eliminate tenure for public school teachers.
The House voted 63-57 on Sunday to approve a compromise bill drafted by Republicans in both legislative chambers. The Senate earlier backed the bill in a 22-16 vote. It now goes to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.
The plan is designed to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order last month in a lawsuit filed by parents and four school districts in 2010 over education funding. The court directed lawmakers to boost aid to poor districts.
The plan does so, but conservative Senate Republicans insisted on eliminating tenure for public school teachers. The proposal brought dozens of red-shirted teachers to the Statehouse to protest.
Governor Sam Brownback today issued the following statement on the school finance bill passed by the Kansas legislature.
“The school finance bill passed by the Kansas legislature today fully complies with, and indeed exceeds, the requirements of the recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling for funding schools and providing equity.
“House Bill 2506 increases funding to Kansas schools by $73 million and includes $78 million of property tax relief. The bill ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently, putting money in the classrooms to help teachers teach and students learn.
“I appreciate the efforts of the legislature, and especially the hard work and leadership of Speaker Merrick and President Wagle.”
House Minority Leader Paul Davis released a statement overnight about House Bill 2506:
“This is a disappointing and sad day for public education in Kansas. Despite the additional funding included in the bill that passed tonight, a clear attack was made on the tens of thousands of Kansas teachers that help our kids learn each and everyday.
“While hundreds of teachers visited the capitol this weekend, Gov. Brownback was nowhere to be found. He failed to make schools a priority and let House and Senate leadership force through unpopular, partisan policies instead of focusing on a simple, straightforward solution.
“The Governor’s failure to lead on this critical issue left the state with a bill that focuses more on destructive policies than the funding our schools so desperately need.”