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Kansas Votes More Money For Public Schools To Avert Shutdown

Kansas lawmakers, trying to head off a court shutdown of the state's public schools, have increased aid to poor districts by $38 million.

Four school districts sued the state in 2010 for more funding, and the state Supreme Court threatened to close the schools as of the end of June until state officials found a way to address inequities on the quality of education offered to children of different economic classes.

Officials offered a plan last month that the justices found inadequate, as the Two-Way reported:

"After reviewing the lawmakers' changes, the justices concluded, 'Disparities among the districts remain inequitable and unconstitutional.' ...

"In his dissent, Justice Lee A. Johnson agreed that the funding plan was inadequate. But he did not agree about giving the Legislature another chance to correct the law. He argued that the court should provide a remedy instead:

" 'In my view, maintaining the integrity of our state constitution and providing equitable educational opportunities for our children are too important for this court to be constrained by any concern that the legislature will be offended that we told it how to do its job. After all, this court has its own job to do, as well.' "

The additional aid comes from other state programs, according to the Associated Press.

The Kansas City Star describes the legislative maneuvers:

"The action came after Kansas lawmakers pivoted Friday and dumped their earlier school finance plan in favor of another proposal that won't cut [.5 percent] from every school district in the state.

"The plan boosts aid to poor school districts by $38 million, just as a previous plan from Republican leaders did. It redistributes some funds from wealthier districts to meet a Kansas Supreme Court mandate to make the education funding system fairer to poor districts."

The governor is expected to sign the measure.

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Barbara Campbell