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Kansas governor signs funding bill to keep schools open

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback speaks to supporters after winning re-election in the U.S. midterm elections in Topeka, Kansas, in this November 4, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich

(Reuters) - Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said on Thursday he signed a bill enacting a new school funding formula to replace one found to be unconstitutional by the state supreme court, which set a June deadline for legislative action.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in February that the funding system approved in 2015 by the Republican-controlled legislature was inequitable, falling $54 million short in funding for primary and secondary students in poor districts. Justices also warned that schools would be ordered to close if the legislature failed to take action by June 30.

“This bill is the result of a delicate legislative compromise – one that I respectfully endorse and that the court should review with appropriate deference,” the Republican governor said in a statement.

But Alan Rupe, an attorney representing four public school districts that sued the state, said the new law does not remedy the inequity problem and that he will ask the supreme court to review the law.

“It’s not going to work. It actually makes things worse in terms of equity,” he said.

A summary of the legislation said it appropriates $367 million in supplemental general state aid under a new formula that takes into account the assessed valuation of property within a district on a per pupil basis.

It also adopts a previously court-approved capital outlay equalization formula and ensures no school district will have its current level of funding reduced, according to the governor’s statement.

School funding in Kansas has been the subject of litigation for decades.

Reporting By Karen Pierog; Editing by Dan Grebler

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