Governor Kelly Fully Funds Kansas Schools for the Sixth Year in a Row, Increases Funding for Special Education

Government and Politics

May 15, 2024

From: Kansas Governor Laura Kelly

Bipartisan K-12 Budget Bill Makes Historic Investments in Kansas Students, Special Education

TOPEKA - Governor Laura Kelly?today signed House Substitute for Senate Bill 387, fully funding K-12 education for the sixth consecutive year and making the initial investment into fully funding special education. The bill builds on Governor Kelly’s commitment to fully funding public schools and providing the resources needed to ensure Kansas students are prepared for lifelong learning.  

“Kansas’ public schools and students are foundational to ensuring our state has a bright future,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I am proud to fully fund our public schools for the sixth consecutive year. By collaborating in a bipartisan manner, we’re equipping all of our students and educators with the resources they need to succeed in the classroom.”

Critically, House Substitute for Senate Bill 387 provides $75.5 million in additional funding for special education state aid. This includes $65.5 million in new State General Fund support, $2.5 million from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, and $7.5 million appropriated in 2023 for the upcoming school year. With this increased funding, districts will be better positioned to recruit and retain special education staff and ensure adequate services are provided to students with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs). This funding represents the first year of a phased-in approach to fully funding special education in accordance with state’s statutory obligation. 

“Fully funding special education benefits each and every student and shows that Kansas supports and values our educators,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I appreciate the Legislature’s willingness to collaborate in a bipartisan manner to secure this increased funding. This is only the first step, as we must continue increasing special education funding in future years to meet the state’s obligation.”  

In addition to fully funding K-12 education, House Substitute for Senate Bill 387 also: 

  • Expands Access to Child Care: The bill provides $5 million for the creation of a public-private partnership that supports child care providers in rural and frontier communities in northwest Kansas. This partnership with the Dane G. Hansen Foundation and Patterson Family Foundation will create a new endowment that will award operational grants to child care providers and combat the growth of child care deserts.
  • Invests in Early Childhood Education and Literacy: The bill includes $23.7 million from the Children’s Initiatives Fund for the Early Childhood Block Grant, which provides funding to programs supporting the healthy development of Kansas children. The bill also continues to fund the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program, which gifts books to children from birth to five years old.
  • Supports the Teacher Workforce: The bill includes $1.3 million for a mentorship program for early-career educators and $1.8 million to support teacher professional development.
  • Continues Commitment to School Safety: The bill includes $5 million in grants for schools to make physical improvements, purchase equipment, and hire school resource officers to improve the safety and security of schools.  

“It was an honor to chair the House and Senate School Funding Conference Committee,” said Kansas State Senator Molly Baumgardner, District 37. ?”We focused on crafting increased school funding that better addresses the needs of our Kansas students and our dedicated teachers and staff members. Our commitment to distributing increased special education funding in a more equitable way to Kansas school districts was accomplished by collaborating directly with the Department of Education leadership team. This is an important change for children that receive these special services.”

“Investing in public education is the best investment we can make for our economy, our state, and the future for Kansas kids,” said Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes, District 21. “This budget ensures every student has the resources they need to be successful by fully funding Kansas’ K-12 public schools for the sixth year in a row. This is the right thing to do for Kansas students, teachers, and communities.”

“I am pleased that the Kansas Legislature agreed to continue to constitutionally fund public education, provide more than $75 million of new money for special education, and to insure accountability for targeted funds,” said Kansas House Assistant Minority Leader Valdenia Winn, District 34. “I look forward in the future to developing more policies that support increased student achievement.”

Additionally, Governor Kelly line-item vetoed a provision that would have altered the School Safety and Security Grant Program into a no-bid contract for one company to provide services to schools.  

Governor Kelly’s full message to the Legislature and more information about her line-item veto can be found here.