Schools For Fair Funding pulls support of SB 44

Schools For Fair Funding, which represents school districts in the Gannon lawsuit, has withdrawn its support of Gov. Laura Kelly’s proposed fix to resolve the long running litigation. 

 SFFF has submitted amended and supplemented testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Education Finance that says SB 44 has a drafting error that shortchanges by $270 million what SFFF says is necessary to provide the inflation adjustment for school funding called for by the Kansas Supreme Court in the Gannon VI decision. 

“Upon further analysis we find that, in its current form, SB 44 would not satisfy the Gannon VI decision. Without correction we cannot support SB 44,” the amended testimony by SFFF lobbyist Bill Brady says. Adding the $270 million will fix the problem, Brady says. 

In early February, SFFF, along with several education groups, including KASB, testified in favor of SB 44. KASB continues to support the legislation as a way to resolve the lawsuit and here is a link to our testimony. 

The new development, first reported by the Sunflower State Journal, comes as the Legislature takes its mid-session break. Legislators will return to Topeka on Wednesday. The Select Education Finance Committee has scheduled a meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on SB 142, which would increase school funding by $90 million for the next two fiscal years. 

Gov. Kelly’s spokeswoman Ashley All told the Sunflower State Journal that SB 44 reflected the recommendation from the State Board of Education based on calculations from the Kansas State Department of Education. Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis told the Sunflower State Journal that there was no error. 

SB 44 increases funding next year by approximately $90 million and sustains that increase through the Legislature’s multi-year plan. Essentially, SFFF says an additional $90 million needs to be added each year. 

The base state aid under SB 44 would increase from $4,436 per student to $4,846 per student by fiscal year 2023. Under SFFF’s amended testimony, the base should increase from $4,436 to $5,219. 

Legal briefs from plaintiffs and the state are due before the court April 15. 

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