Governor Brownback signs education funding bill to law

Governor Sam Brownback says a Kansas Supreme Court ruling has been fulfilled after he signed a $129 million school funding bill Monday.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a lawsuit on an equity portion of school funding on March 7th go back to the Kansas Legislature. The bill was approved April 6th through the Kansas Legislature, and Governor Brownback signed it Monday, saying it satisfies the ruling.

Next year, school funding will increase by $129 million.

“This is a win for Kansas students,its a win for parents to students, it’s a win for school districts, and its a win for property tax owners,” said Governor Brownback before he signed the bill to law.

The Kansas Legislature passed a bill that restores aid for poor school districts, it’s also a controversial decision that gets rid of the current teacher tenure process.

“The Supreme Courts mandates on equity have been met by this bill, so I think we move on and address the adequacy portions of the lawsuit,” explained John Robb.

John Robb, the General Counsel for Schools for Better Funding, says the bigger fight is with the question whether or not there is adequate funding for all of the schools in the state.

“I think the equity portions are certainly a win for the less wealthy school districts,” said Robb.

Before Governor Brownback could sign the bill that could satisfy the court ruling, teachers took one last chance at what teacher, Jeremy Gibson calls it, putting a face to the bill Brownback signed.

“It’s like winning a fight and then getting hit with a low blow. We got more money for schools and we’re going to be doing some good things, but the end result with removing due process was a low blow,” said Gibson.

Gibson came on his own accord, just to watch the signing of the bill that would take away his extra protection as a teacher.

“I’m real disheartened that a piece of legislation was put into a bill in the zero hour, and not even the zero hour, at four o’clock in the morning. You know it’s funny cause my grandmother always told me that bad things happen after midnight, and it did,” said Gibson.

The law will now go back to the three-judge district court panel for review.

The lawsuit was divided up into two pieces, the equity part, which Governor Brownback just signed, and the adequacy portion, which will be coming to the Kansas Supreme Court as early as next session.

From the Governor’s Office:

Governor Sam Brownback today signed HB2506, ensuring continued funding for education throughout the state.
The Governor, joined by Senate President Susan Wagle, House Speaker Ray Merrick and other legislators, signed into law a bill passed by the legislature on April 6.
“This bill fully addresses the equity issue addressed in the Gannon court decision. Most important, it puts money in the classroom to benefit students and teachers and provides property tax relief for Kansans,” said Governor Brownback. “It makes strategic investments in our institutions of higher education, recognizing the important role they play in creating our next generation of Kansas teachers, doctors, business people and community leaders.”
The bill provides $126 million to correct the equity issue for Kansas schools. The bill directs money to the classrooms to benefit teachers and students and provides tax relief for property owners across the state.
“HB2506 contains good strong education reform in Kansas,” said Governor Brownback. “It supports expansion of innovative school districts, alternate certification to allow experts in science, technology, engineering, math and finance and accounting to teach our high school students. And it provides bonuses to teachers who attain national certification.”
Passage and signature of the bill also ensures there will not be an interruption in funding or local option budget authority that would have required layoff notices to be sent to teachers and administrators across the state.
“This bill returns control to the local school districts and communities,” said President Wagle. “These reforms will benefit Kansas students. We have good schools in Kansas and this will make them even stronger.”
“The two goals of HB 2506 are to ensure equity in funding across school districts in Kansas and improve student outcomes,” said Speaker Merrick. “In the process we were able to put more money into the classroom and provide $78 million in property tax relief.”
The Governor received the bill on April 14. He has 10 days from the time it is received to sign, veto or allow a bill to become law without his signature.

From Schools for Better Funding:
“The school finance bill signed today by the Governor appears to meet the Kansas Supreme Court’s equity mandate. That portion of the suit was successful and the less wealthy districts and taxpayers in the state will see great benefits.

The law, however, is not a clean bill and creates mixed results. Unfortunately the bill also contains unnecessary policy items that don’t benefit public school students. These include corporate vouchers for private schools, expansion of local property taxes, at-risk student funding cuts and the unfortunate due process repeal. These portions of the bill are not only unnecessary but hurtful to taxpayers, kids and teachers.

Now it’s time to finish the job, as directed by the Supreme Court, and address whether the State is adequately funding the schools. I am confident that the court will find that the state has not met this obligation.”

John Robb – General Counsel, Schools for Fair Funding.

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