A Schools for Fair Funding official said Wednesday the group is prepared to drop its litigation over public school finance if lawmakers pass Gov. Laura Kelly's education plan without amendments.
Failure to do so, Bill Brady warned, could inspire the group to argue before the court for a higher yearly inflation adjustment.
Senators in a select committee opened hearings on a bill that would add about $90 million per year to a $525 million increase the Legislature passed a year ago.
The Kansas Supreme Court signaled last year's plan would suffice if lawmakers added a yearly 1.44 percent increase over the five-year phase-in of extra cash.
Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park, asked Brady to affirm his acceptance of the $90 million inflation figure, which is factored as a flat rate. If the inflation were accumulative, Denning said, it would add $271 million to the cost.
"I just want to be sure that you're OK with that, you won't bring another lawsuit, and you'll help convince the court," Denning said.
Brady said this was the first time the group has submitted testimony in favor of proposed legislation. If adopted in its current form, he said, schools would agree to drop the lawsuit on the condition that the high court retain jurisdiction through 2023 to ensure the plan is carried out.
"We're not going to bring a suit after this," Brady said.
However, he said, if lawmakers don't pass an agreed upon solution, schools may try to convince the court to reconsider the 1.44 rate. Regional inflation figures could be closer to 2.5 percent.
"I'm not going to say that we won't go back to court and talk about what the actual inflation numbers are going to be," Brady said.
A series of school officials from across the state began testifying in support of Senate Bill 44, promoting the difference a funding increase has made.
In addition to raising teacher pay, they said, the money supports programs for at-risk students and helps hold local property taxes steady.
Patrick Woods, a Topeka school board member representing the five Shawnee County districts, said the funding helps schools change the odds for students. He said adjusting for inflation and settling litigation is "critical."
"This is a simple, easy fix," Woods said. "You have it in front of you. It is entirely within the realm of possibility to keep our promise to Kansas students."
Justin Henry, superintendent of Goddard Unified School District 265, called on lawmakers to provide long-term stability in school funding for the first time in more than a decade.
"When it's not predictable," Henry said, "we hit rewind and play 11 years in a row, and we can't go out and plan. We can talk all day about teacher quality, but if we can't plan on how many teachers we're even going to staff, it hurts. And you just don't find them in July."