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GOP ties boost in Kansas school funding to ‘open enrollment’

April 29, 2022 GMT
Members of the Kansas House Rules Committee confer in the hallway behind the House chamber during a debate on an education funding bill to decide whether the way it was drafted violates the Legislature's rules, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. They concluded that the rules weren't violated, and the bill passed. (AP Photo/John Hanna) J
Members of the Kansas House Rules Committee confer in the hallway behind the House chamber during a debate on an education funding bill to decide whether the way it was drafted violates the Legislature's rules, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. They concluded that the rules weren't violated, and the bill passed. (AP Photo/John Hanna) J
Members of the Kansas House Rules Committee confer in the hallway behind the House chamber during a debate on an education funding bill to decide whether the way it was drafted violates the Legislature's rules, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. They concluded that the rules weren't violated, and the bill passed. (AP Photo/John Hanna) J
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Members of the Kansas House Rules Committee confer in the hallway behind the House chamber during a debate on an education funding bill to decide whether the way it was drafted violates the Legislature's rules, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. They concluded that the rules weren't violated, and the bill passed. (AP Photo/John Hanna) J
1 of 3
Members of the Kansas House Rules Committee confer in the hallway behind the House chamber during a debate on an education funding bill to decide whether the way it was drafted violates the Legislature's rules, Thursday, April 28, 2022, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. They concluded that the rules weren't violated, and the bill passed. (AP Photo/John Hanna) J

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in Kansas on Thursday approved an increase in funding for public schools but tied the extra money to allowing parents to send their children to any school with room for them.

The measure passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature and sent to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly would boost direct state funding to local school districts by about 6%. The $6.4 billion in funding for 2022-23 complies with past Kansas Supreme Court rulings in a lawsuit filed against the state in 2010 by school districts.

The votes were 24-14 in the Senate and 75-45 in the House. No Democrats voted yes.

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Conservative Republicans argued that the “open enrollment” provisions in the bill would give parents more options while using competition to push schools to improve.

“Should we just pass on funding without having expectation?” said Rep. Kristey Williams, an Augusta Republican and the chair of a House committee on education funding.

Educators and Democratic lawmakers argued that local school districts should set their own enrollment policies and the bill would hurt some districts as funding followed students. They also said open enrollment benefits only students whose parents can afford to drive them to school.

The bill increases special education funding 1.5%, but educators and Democrats said schools needed more.

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