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Reaction varied after education funding votes

A bill adding nearly $130 million to education funding -- and subtracting teacher tenure and due process -- equals a big decision for Gov. Sam Brownback in the coming days.

The bill passed Sunday in both the House and Senate adds money to address inequity matters brought forth by the Kansas Supreme Court earlier this session. It also eliminates teacher tenure and due process for over 36,000 teachers, librarians and counselors; creates tax credits for companies donating to private school scholarships and increases base state aid by $14 a student.

Emporia Sen. Jeff Longbine voted against the bill because he's not sure this actually meets the court mandate on inequity and also because he believes the politics on teacher tenure were "unfair" -- he says that bill wasn't vetted in committee before hitting the floor. He says Gov. Brownback has a difficult decision ahead.

Emporia Rep. Peggy Mast voted with the majority. She says this adds property tax relief and lets districts raise their local option budget, so it may be problematic for Gov. Brownback if he vetoes the bill.

Rep. Don Hill was absent, waiting until Sunday morning before taking a planned family trip, but he says the bill has "a lot of problems" and as such did not have his support.  He says the tenure component is troublesome.

USD 284 Chase County superintendent Jeff Kohlman said his initial reaction was wondering if this measure will help or hurt Kansas students. He says there will need to be some explaining on the due process language.

USD 386 Madison-Virgil superintendent Ryan Bradbury:

 

Bradbury said his district will benefit from the local-option budget and capital outlay fund, since Madison is a smaller district and relies on state aid to equalize their funding.

Emporia Superintendent Theresa Davidson doesn't anticipate a clamoring to remove teachers should the new due process measure be signed.

The Kansas Supreme Court told lawmakers to come up with solutions by July 1, so if Gov. Brownback signs it the high court still has to rule on whether this bill will actually pass muster.

Davidson believes there won't be much impact to the district as far as operations goes, and she believes the bill will provide additional dollars locally. An update should be available during the school board meeting Wednesday night.

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