OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly talked with special education students at Shawnee Mission South High School on Tuesday while also sharing her concern for a bill dealing with school choice that passed the House last week.
“They tied the Education Savings Account, which is just another way to say ‘voucher,'” Kelly said after her meeting.
The Democratic governor was critical of some Republicans who tied special education funding to the bill with educational savings accounts.
The governor said Republicans did this to try to pair something they wanted with something that she wanted in special education funding.
“It won’t work,” Kelly said. “I do not believe in vouchers. I believe that public dollars ought to go to public schools, and so it won’t work. What they need to do is pull the special education funding out of that bill and put it back in the regular budget bill.
“Will I sign a bill supporting vouchers? No.”
That bill is going to a conference committee now. Republican State Sen. Molly Baumgardner is on that committee. She said the bill has drastically changed since she last saw it. On March 17, she would not tell us whether she’d support the bill, but said parents are already making choices as to where their children go to school.
“As a parent of four children, you do make choices as to what is the best opportunity and best environment for your individual child,” Baumgardner said that day.
The principal at Shawnee Mission South, Todd Dain, says it’s important for lawmakers to see the students with disabilities.
“That’s why I think it’s most powerful that Kelly was here to meet the young people and to see the students and to see the services that they receive every day.”
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School choice supporters say public school districts need to be more accountable for the state money they already receive.
In a phone conversation Tuesday, Baumgardner told FOX4 it’d be hard for this legislation to pass the way it is. Her committee may review it Monday, March 27. She expects major changes to be made to the way the bill currently reads.