Governor Sam Brownback signs bill to keep Kansas Schools open

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TOPEKA, Kan. — Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has signed an education funding bill designed to prevent the state Supreme Court from shutting down the state's public schools.

Brownback announced Thursday that he had signed the measure. He took the action Wednesday.

The bill is a response to a Supreme Court ruling in February that the state isn't providing enough aid to its poor districts. The justices threatened to shut down schools if lawmakers didn't act by June 30.

The bill redistributes $83 million of the state's $4 billion-plus in annual aid.

Critics contend that the bill doesn't solve the problems identified by the court. But Brownback said in a statement that the bill arose from what he called a "delicate legislative compromise."

He called on the court to review it with "appropriate deference."

The main change with this formula is that schools would receive state funding for instructional costs only. So money for activities such as football and any non-instructional services would have to come from increasing local property taxes, which could be as much as $450 million statewide.

"We're just shifting the state's responsibility onto local school districts, forcing them to raise property taxes and the other provision in this bill is that it's unlimited in terms of what local can raise in local property taxes," Senator Anthony Hensley said.

Those in favor say the bill is to make sure to the money gets to students and teachers in the classroom. Those opposed say there wasn't anything wrong with the old school formula.

"The main thing that we are looking at is trying to ensure that we get the money down to the classroom for the students and principally the teacher," Representative Anthony Hensley said.

The new bill raises more questions about equity among districts around the state.

The new bill will also not provide funding for things such as food service and building maintenance, but band and art will have funding.