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Former Kansas House Speaker: New Money for Education Not Needed

The Kansas Statehouse. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

A former Kansas House speaker, Republican Mike O’Neal, told lawmakers that they can comply with a court order on school funding without adding additional money. The state Supreme Court says lawmakers must reduce funding disparities among school districts or schools could close.

O’Neal, now the head of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, says there are ways to redistribute funds to fix the issue.

“When you go to the refrigerator to pour two glasses of milk for your kids and they’re not exactly right, your first impulse isn’t to go back to the refrigerator. It’s to take one glass and pour it into the other until they’re equal,” says O’Neal.
David Smith is with the Kansas City, Kansas, school district. He says unless lawmakers add funding they’ll likely have to take money from some school districts to benefit others.

“The best thing to do is a solution that doesn’t hurt anybody, but keeps things equitable. It’s going to require more money, but that’s what it requires,” says Smith.
Governor Sam Brownback has endorsed adding nearly $40 million in school funding to comply with the court and avoid a possible school closure.

Legislative committees are meeting this week in advance of a special session next week focused on education funding.

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