Interim work expected on school finance before January start of 2018 session

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, said Thursday that a joint committee will work on school finance before the start of the 2018 legislative session.

Denning said the Legislative Coordinating Council will meet Monday and set the interim committee in motion to start work on addressing a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that found the school finance system inadequate and inequitable.

His comments came during a panel discussion at the KASB School Finance Workshop

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, who was also a participant in the panel discussion said he was pleased to hear an interim committee would meet. Following the Oct. 2 court decision, Democrats had called for pre-session work on school finance. The 2018 session starts in January.

Sen. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, also participated in the panel discussion. Denning, Hensley and Bollier were all key participants in last year’s debates on school finance.

Earlier, House education leaders talked to education officials at the KASB conference. The House panel included Larry Campbell, R-Olathe, and chairman of the K-12 Education Budget Committee; Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, the ranking minority member on that committee, and Melissa Rooker, R-Fairway, also a member of that committee.

All six legislators on the panels at the workshop urged school officials to speak with their legislative representatives about the needs of schools.

Under the school finance bill passed last session, schools received nearly $200 million more this year and will receive approximately $100 million more next year. But the court ruled the school finance system could not be reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed basic education standards.

Rooker said school officials need to inform legislators and the public about their goals, the innovative ways they are engaging students and how they will target resources on closing the achievement gap.

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