Brownback Signs Legislature School Funding Fix
April 7, 2016

(AP) – Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has signed an education funding bill designed to prevent the state Supreme Court from shutting down the state’s public schools.
Brownback announced Thursday that he had signed the measure. He took the action Wednesday.
The bill is a response to a Supreme Court ruling in February that the state isn’t providing enough aid to its poor districts. The justices threatened to shut down schools if lawmakers didn’t act by June 30.
The bill redistributes $83 million of the state’s $4 billion-plus in annual aid.
Critics contend that the bill doesn’t solve the problems identified by the court. But Brownback said in a statement that the bill arose from what he called a “delicate legislative compromise.”
He called on the court to review it with “appropriate deference”.

Kansas Court Says School Block Grants are Unconstitutional
June 26, 2015

Topeka Capital Journal:
A panel of Shawnee County district court judges on Friday declared Kansas’ latest school finance bill unconstitutional both in terms of equity and adequacy.

The court says that Senate Bill 7 — the block grant bill — violates Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution.

A key issue for the court is the way the Legislature changed the two types of funding that affect poorer districts.

The bill cut more than $50 million in operating and maintenance funds exclusively from school districts that qualify for equalization funding based on having weaker tax bases.

The judges say we “withdraw our previous finding of substantial compliance,” referring to its previous decision following last spring’s finance legislation.

In that decision the court found that last spring’s school finance bill addressed equity issues. Now, the court says the finding was “premature” and “incorrect.”

Abrams School Bill Ties Money to Student Performance AFTER High School
March 24, 2015

(AP) – A Kansas Senate committee is considering a new education funding plan that would tie some state aid to public schools to how well students do after high school.
The Senate Education Committee had a hearing Tuesday on a plan drafted by Chairman and Arkansas City Republican Steve Abrams. He said his goal is to focus public schools on educating students so they can at least be part of the middle class.
The Legislature passed a bill this month to replace the state’s current per-student funding formula with “block grants” for school districts, but that system would be in place for only two years.
The Abrams plan would be tested on six school districts during the 2015-16 school year before being expanded to all 286 school districts over two years.

Kansas House Looks at School. Spending Delay as Budget Stop Gap
January 29, 2015

(AP) – A Kansas House committee has modified a proposal from Republican Gov. Sam Brownback to delay providing some funds to school districts for four months.

The Appropriations Committee began work Thursday on a bill that would close a projected $279 million shortfall in the current state budget.

Brownback’s budget-balancing plan relies most heavily on diverting funds for highway projects and other special funds into the state’s main bank account, which has the projected deficit.

But Brownback also hoped to avoid a mid-February cash crunch for the state by delaying $45 million in payments to schools for building repairs and equipment until June.

The committee voted to delay only $20 million in payments.

Brownback Says NEA Lawsuit Could Harm Schools
August 12, 2014

(AP) – Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says he’s worried that a lawsuit by the state’s largest teachers union challenging an anti-tenure measure could endanger additional funds for poor school districts.

Brownback said Monday that the lawsuit filed by the Kansas National Education Association in Shawnee County District Court was, in his words, an exercise in labor-union politics.

The KNEA contends that legislators this year violated the Kansas Constitution by tying additional funding for poor public schools to a measure ending guaranteed tenure for public school teachers.

The union said the combination violated the state constitution’s requirement that most legislation have only one subject. The group wants to block only the anti-tenure measure.

But Brownback said he’s concerned that the education money also could be jeopardized.