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Kansas School Districts Line Up to Support Governor's Funding Plan

Patrick Woods speaking to the committee Wednesday. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

School administrators from across Kansas lined up Wednesday in support of Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s proposal to boost funding for schools in response to a state Supreme Court ruling.

The bill would add more than $350 million in spending over four years. That’s on top of a funding boost last year.

Patrick Woods, representing schools in Shawnee County, told a Senate committee that last year’s funding increase allowed districts to give teachers raises and invest in services for students.

He believes one more infusion of funds could finally end a years-long lawsuit.

“I hope that they will take advantage of this opportunity that’s right there in front of them,” Woods said in an interview.

School officials also said the plan would create funding stability. For Goddard Public Schools, the bill would mean the power to plan ahead for hiring teachers.

“We can talk all day about teacher quality, but if we can’t plan on how many teachers we’re even going to staff, it hurts,” Goddard Superintendent Justin Henry told the committee. "You just don’t find them in July.”

Republican leaders in the Legislature are skeptical. Sen. Majority Leader Jim Denning said the school funding bill may not actually fix the legal issues, and until lawmakers do more work on the state budget it’s not clear if it’s affordable.

“Without working the budget, we really have no idea where we are,” Denning said after the meeting.

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