Kansas Considers Ban on Public School Tuition

Published April 1, 1998

Kansas State Representative Kay O’Connor wants to abolish a tuition fee that she says discriminates against poor families who might want to change district schools but can’t afford to. Her bill to abolish such fees won easy approval in the House but was unexpectedly killed in March in the Senate Education Committee. Undeterred, the House Education Committee immediately revived the bill as an amendment to a Senate education funding bill.

Although the Kansas state constitution prohibits public schools from charging tuition, school districts are allowed to charge out-of-district students an attendance fee, which is generally based on local option property tax levels. The fee “keeps out those who can’t afford it,” says O’Connor.

“Rich parents can already send their children to the best public schools in the state,” she said. “Our Constitution requires that we afford those same rights to middle and lower income families.”

Although O’Connor’s bill would repeal the current law and allow students to attend the public school of their choice without charge, a district would not be required to accept students from outside its boundaries. Any reimbursement would be the responsibility of the transfer student’s home district, said O’Connor.