TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and top Kansas lawmakers Monday approved a total of $4.2 million in emergency aid for 25 school districts to help them with young refugees, increased student numbers or local economic problems.
Brownback and eight leaders of the GOP-dominated Legislature gave the districts about 66 percent of the $6.5 million worth of “extraordinary needs” funds they sought.
A school funding law enacted earlier this year gives the governor and legislative leaders the power to distribute up to $12.3 million in emergency aid in the current school year. Brownback and the lawmakers convened three days after the Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys on whether the new law complies with the state constitution — and whether the state immediately owes its 286 school districts an additional $54 million.
The new funding law junked an old, per-student formula for distributing aid to school districts that Brownback and other GOP critics said was confusing and didn’t put enough money into classrooms. The new law gives districts stable “block grants” but many educators don’t think the funding is sufficient, and there’s bipartisan criticism of requiring districts to ask top state officials for extra dollars.