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Kansas House approves school funding bill

By: KAKE News Email
By: KAKE News Email

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Topeka, Kan. -- Kansas lawmakers have given final approval to a plan that would increase aid to poor school districts and eliminate tenure for public school teachers.

The House voted 63-57 on Sunday to approve a compromise bill drafted by Republicans in both legislative chambers.

Lawmakers had expected that kind of slim margin but didn't know which way it would break.

"I'm expecting a close vote," Rep. Brandon Whipple (D-Wichita) said before the house reconvened late Sunday night.

The Senate earlier Sunday backed the bill in a 22-16 vote. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration.

The plan is designed to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order last month in a lawsuit filed by parents and four school districts in 2010 over education funding. The court directed lawmakers to boost aid to poor districts.

The plan does so, but conservative Senate Republicans insisted on eliminating tenure for public school teachers.

Hundreds of teachers had descended on the Capitol this weekend to voice their opposition to that provision.

"It's very important that we are here to show our support for our teachers back home," Wichita teacher Katie Laske said.

As Laske and other teachers listened to debate Sunday, they say they were very concerned with what they heard.

"I'm just very disappointed about a lot of things that were said about teachers and due process rights," Laske said.

While the teachers were at the Capitol Sunday, many marched down to Governor Sam Brownback's office and covered the door with "While you were out" message slips. They say it was their way of voicing their concern over what they say is the Governor's silence on the debate.

"We haven't heard anything from him," Laske said. "(The teachers) were just wondering where he was and where he stood."

Many teachers took to social media after Sunday night's House vote to voice their disappointment in the decision.

Lawmakers also voiced disappointment not only in the vote Sunday night but the process that led up to it.

"We had a clean bipartisan bill that passed the House this week and the Senate put in a bunch of policy issues that have not been vetted and have not had discussion in committee," Rep. Whipple said. "I think the original product we had was a good product."


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