Senate Approves School Funding Increase

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The Senate gave final approval Friday to legislation that will increase state aid to local school districts for a fifth straight year. The Senate action moves the bill forward to be signed by the governor.

"This was a priority for the legislature all year long," said Senator Jean Schodorf, R-Wichita, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. "We believe strongly that public education must remain a
top priority for our state."

The measure, Senate Bill 531, was first proposed by Senate Republicans in January. Sponsored by 33 senators from both political parties, it passed the Senate overwhelmingly (37-2). The House of Representatives later approved the measure, and the final compromise agreement was approved by both chambers.

"We promised to provide a fifth straight year of school funding to
keep up with inflation," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt,
R-Independence. "With passage of this bill, we kept our promise to
Kansas kids."

The legislation will provide a $59.00 per pupil increase in base state aid
for the 2009-10 school year, which will match the rate of inflation.
Enacting school funding legislation a year in advance gives local school
districts more predictability in their funding.

"This is good public policy because it allows schools to plan in
advance and use their resources in an efficient and effective manner,"
said Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, said the legislation
demonstrates the legislature?s commitment to Kansas schoolchildren and their education. "Over the past five years, Kansas has made a
commitment of historic proportions to public education," Morris said.
"We cannot allow education to fall behind again."

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