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Kansas House Gives Initial Approval to School Funding Bill

The Kansas House chamber. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

The Kansas House has voted to scrap the current school funding system and replace it with block grants for two years. That would give lawmakers time to craft a new formula. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, there was a contentious debate yesterday (THUR) before the bill won initial approval on a 64-58 vote. 


(SCRIPT)
Republican Representative Ron Ryckman admits change isn’t easy, but he says the plan will give Kansas school districts more local control over how they spend their dollars.

“I believe that our local districts know how to educate our kids better than we do. I believe our local districts with more flexibility, less red tape, can get more money in the classroom,” says Ryckman.

Opponents say some districts will lose money under the bill and lawmakers have only had a week to study the plan.

Republican Representative Don Hineman says they’re going too far by throwing away the current school formula.

“Crumple it up and throw it in the trash can and trade it for a blank piece of paper that someone's going to fill in later. That is a big step. That’s a huge step,” says Hineman.

The House will take a final vote on the bill Friday.

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(VERSION TWO)

The Kansas House has given first-round approval to a bill that would throw away the current school funding formula and replace it with a series of block grants for the next two years.The plan would give lawmakers time to write a new formula. The bill passed on a narrow 64-58 vote.

Republican Representative Ron Ryckman says this removes the red tape from school funding. He says it will give schools more local control over money.


“Give them the flexibility to spend it where they want to, to put it more into the classroom,” says Ryckman.

Democratic Representative Jerry Henry says they haven’t had enough time to study the plan.


“No pilot project and no paper study has been done on this proposal. We’ve had the actual bill for one week,” says Henry.

Opponents also argue that the plan hurts some school districts financially. The House is scheduled to take a final vote on the plan tomorrow (FRI).
 

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