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Kansas lawmakers approve $90 million hike in education funding

Posted at 8:38 PM, Apr 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-05 23:16:33-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill that would increase public education funding by $90 million a year, but some critics say that it still won’t be enough.

Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, told 41 Action News on Friday that the $90 million figure was recommended by the state Board of Education.

“It is actually a number that Schools for Fair Funding, the plaintiff, originally agreed to,” Kelly said.

For years, many have said that public schools in the state were underfunded, and the Kansas Supreme Court agreed. Lawmakers had until April 15 to respond to court rulings that said the state must increase funding for education.

“It was very painful to be a part of the budget committee that was stripping funding from our schools,” Kelly said.

The House voted 76-47 and the Senate 31-8 for Kelly's plan, which will increase public education funding by $90 million a year for four years.

One Kansas City metro school district said that the increase in funding will be a welcome change.

“This will really help, and since it covers inflation over the next four years, we can count on additional resources that we may need,” said David Smith, chief communications officer for the Shawnee Mission School District.

Smith said there are resources that district leaders want to provide to students, but right now, there is only so much money to go around.

“We need to make sure they are socially and emotionally cared for and doing well to make sure we are investing in counselors and social workers,” Smith said.

If the state Supreme Court approves the plan, Smith said the increase in funding will make a big difference for schools across the state.

“We've got to be thinking strategically to ensure that every kid, no matter where they come from — if English is their first language, if they come from poverty — that they are able to be successful,” Smith said.

Kelly's office said that the governor plans to sign the bill on Saturday afternoon.