TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas leaders are weighing in on a bill dealing with school choice that passed the statehouse Wednesday.

“The kids that I teach, the students, every single one of them deserve the best public school,” Kansas National Education Association President Sherri Schwanz said Friday.

Schwanz is on leave from her job as a music teacher in the Lansing School District while she serves as president. She said a bill involving school choice would hurt public schools, and she does not support it.

In the bill that passed out of the Kansas House on Wednesday, an education savings account can be set up for students, making it easier for them to attend a private school.

“Taking and cherry-picking students from the best and the brightest and leaving behind those students who have the most needs is very concerning,” Schwanz continued. 

Republican State Sen. Molly Baumgardner said the House Substitute for Senate Bill 83 has drastically changed since the last time she saw it.

“It will be going to conference committee,” Baumgardner said Friday. 

The state senator from Louisburg is on that conference committee. The bill’s bundled with money for special education and teacher pay raises, two things Democrats want.

Baumgardner would not say whether she’ll support it but said parents are already making choices as to where their children go to school. 

“We know that we have families throughout our state that are having to send their kids to private schools that specialize in educating kids that have dyslexia and other cognitive learning problems,” she said.

“In fact, the leading school for that is right here in Johnson County, and those parents have had to make that choice because our school districts have not responded to the needs of that growing population of dyslexic children.”

That school she was referring to is the Horizon Academy out of Roeland Park.

Baumgardner said the earliest the conference committee could review this bill is the end of next week. She thinks it will be hard for this bill to pass, but she wants special education funding to be put in the omnibus bill during the veto session.