Kansas House leadership abandoned plans Wednesday to vote on a public school finance bill, giving an upper hand to Senate counterparts when they negotiate a compromise next week.

The Senate is prepared to stand firm on carrying out the final four years of a $525 million increase the Legislature passed a year ago, with the addition of $90 million per year to account for a court-ordered inflation adjustment.

The House plan would have eliminated the last two years of that plan, leaving more than $200 million in jeopardy and risking rejection by the Kansas Supreme Court.

Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Republican from Louisville and chairwoman of the Senate panel that produced school funding legislation, said the Senate negotiators will use the Supreme Court's direction as a guide.

"It means we need to make sure that it is for four years," Baumgardner said. "That's where there's some differences. The courts are expecting it. They were very specific."

The high court determined last year's plan to phase in the funding increase met constitutional standards but lacked inflation beyond 2017. The Kansas Board of Education calculated the $90 million correction, which Gov. Laura Kelly recommended to lawmakers.

When the session began, Schools for Fair Funding supported the $90 million figure. Then the group concluded a more favorable calculation would add $270 million to the annual total.

"What has become apparent from that is they don't have the intention to ever drop the lawsuit," Baumgardner said. "They will continue to find ways to drag this on."

The House and Senate plans contain the same funding total for the next two years, but a House committee led by Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, decided not to "obligate future legislatures." The House plan uses the $90 million increase to expand a mental health program and aid nonprofits that serve underachieving students.

Williams also crafted a bill full of policy landmines that enraged public school advocates. The policy bill removes a commitment to fund special education, establishes task forces and requires students receiving bilingual support to demonstrate English proficiency. The House passed the policy bill 63-62 after a flurry of last-minute vote changes.

"I think that the policy is sound," Williams said. "I don't think the policy conflicts with what the Supreme Court has asked, and as a legislative body, just because we want to fix the inflation amount doesn't mean we stop evaluating and accessing our schools and how our kids are doing."

The Senate's plan, which allows schools to decide how to spend the new money, passed 32-8. The House's failure to pass a funding bill before adjourning for the week means the Senate has little reason to budge when negotiations begin as early as Monday afternoon.

"We have a position," Baumgardner said, "and it was a strong position here on the Senate side. It is always helpful as you move into negotiations to have the ability to say, 'Well, this is our position,' so we will certainly do that."

House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, a Democrat from Wichita, said he was encouraged that House Republicans couldn't find support for their plan.

That leaves House Republicans in a weak position, Sawyer said, and he was confident the contentious policy pieces would be stripped away.

"We're going to end up with something close to what the Board of Education and the governor recommended, and the Senate passed by a huge margin, with maybe a couple of policy pieces," Sawyer said.

However, Republicans from both chambers may find a shared interest in transparency measures contained in the House policy. They want schools to report the funding sources — local, state or federal — for expenses, and how much money is spent on litigation against the state. The House bill also authorizes annual reports on student achievement in English, math and science, and requires report cards to be issued for every school.

"I'm optimistic because we all want to do what's best for our local schools," Williams said. "In the House, we believe that accountability is the right direction to move in. I'm hopeful that we'll find common ground."

Valdenia Winn, a Kansas City Democrat who will take part in the negotiations, said she is optimistic about the outcome.

"Short and sweet: We'll have to wait and see what happens," she said.