TOPEKA (KSNT) -The Kansas State Supreme Court Tuesday granted the Brownback administration a delay in paying an additional $46 million to public schools – just hours before that payment was supposed to be made.
The court issued a stay of a lower court ruling last Friday which ordered the State of Kansas to pay the money to school districts involved in the so-called “Gannon” case.
A Shawnee County District Court 3 judge panel determined late last year that the state had underfunded public education by more than 400-million dollars in recent years in that suit. On Friday, the court ordered an additional $46 million be paid to the districts July 1st.
Monday, State Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the high court to delay that order until the state’s full case could be heard by the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss, in issuing the stay, wrote “We hold the State has made the basic showing required to support its request for relief. Accordingly, this court stays the panel’s memorandum opinion order of June 26 until our further order or the issuance of our mandate.”
Nuss also said the court “recognized the need for swift resolution…” of the issue and will release a hearing schedule in the days to come.
Alan Rupe of the law firm representing the districts tells KSNT News, “In essence, the Supreme Court hit the pause button on the ordered payments. The Court’s stay was not unexpected: we had earlier predicted the chances were slim that the Supreme Court would deny the stay. The good news for the plaintiffs and all Kansas schoolchildren is that the Kansas Supreme Court today ordered an expedited schedule on the equity issue.”
A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court last week invalidated key parts of a school funding law enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature this year.
The lower-court judges ordered Kansas to provide more money to districts using the state’s previous school funding formula.
The new school funding law scrapped the old per-student formula for distributing aid in favor of predictable grants for each districts. The lower-court panel said the changes violated the state constitution by not providing equal educational opportunities for all students.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.