Kansas Supreme Court rejects state’s appeal on school funding shortfall

(AP Photo/Topeka Capital-Journal, Thad Allton)

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The Kansas Supreme Court Thursday rejected an appeal by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt take over the case take over a lower court ruling the state has dramatically underfunded public education for years.

The state is appealing a three-judge panel which reached that conclusion in December of 2014, and wanted the high court to take on the case, rather than let the case continue at the district court level.

The three-judge panel ruled on December 30th the state’s current funding is “inadequate from any rational perspective of the evidence” and said the state was under-spending education needs by at least $548 million dollars year. The case is currently still at the district court as it tries to decide exactly how much underfunding has occurred.

In it’s ruling Thursday, authored by Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss, the panel upheld the lower court’s jurisdiction over the case stating “…this court affirmed the panel’s equity rulings and remanded for the panel to enforce them after giving the legislature an opportunity to cure the constitutional infirmities.”

That reform was introduced into both chambers of the state legislature just hours after the court’s ruling. The legislation would change the current complicated school funding formula with a broader block grant approach.

In December the panel determined that the state should be spending at roughly $4,654 per student a year.  The state’s current base rate is $3,852 per pupil for K-12 schools.

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