Kansas school choice eligibility signed into law

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed into law Monday HB 2134, one provision of which will expand education choice opportunities for Kansas families.

Among education-related legislation signed into law by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is the expansion of a tax credit program for low-income student scholarships that will broaden eligibility to include those  who qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

The program currently is open to low-income students eligible for free meals and attending one of the 100 lowest-performing public schools. The total tax credits would remain capped at $10 million a year.

Rep. Kristey Williams, chair of the House K-12 Education Budget Committee, said the scholarship expansion was a step toward raising educational competency for more Kansans.

“Education isn’t just about money,” Williams said in a joint statement with House Speaker Ron Ryckman. “It isn’t about most kids. It’s about every kid.”

House Bill 2134, the product of negotiations between House and Senate lawmakers and the governor’s office, also funds the state’s 286 local public school districts at an annual rate of $5.2 billion for the budget year beginning July 1. Additionally, it places restrictions on public schools’ use of remote instruction and directs local school boards to use federal COVID-19 aid to give district employees a $500 bonus.

While less than enthusiastic about the scholarship expansion portion of the legislation, Kelly nevertheless praised efforts across political lines for working to provide students and teachers with needed resources.

“Ensuring kids have access to a quality education not only helps them succeed. It helps our businesses succeed and promotes economic development by providing employers with a highly educated, skilled workforce,” Kelly said.