Kansas Supreme Court rules Kansas schools are not adequately funded

Kansas Supreme Court (KSN photo)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Supreme Court released its decision Thursday on school funding.

This case deals with whether schools are being funded adequately.

The court says that the Kansas K-12 public education financing system does not meet the adequacy requirements of the people’s constitution.

In a release sent out Thursday morning, the court has stayed the enforcement of its decision until June 30, 2017 to give the state Legislature time to respond.

To read the court’s ruling CLICK HERE

Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley released the following statement following the court’s decision:

“Today’s decision confirms what we already knew – Kansas schools are significantly underfunded, threatening the quality of education our children are receiving wherever they may reside in our state.

“In my response to Governor Brownback’s State of the State address on January 10, I said, ‘I believe the task of creating a new school finance formula should’ve started already since the temporary two-year block grants will expire at the end of this school year.’

“I also said on January 10, ‘a new formula must provide adequate and equitable funding so as to end the school finance litigation we have endured for entirely too long.’

“Now, more than ever, Governor Brownback and Republican legislative leaders must stop playing political games and get serious about fully funding our children and grandchildren’s education.

“You’re only in first grade one time. You’re only a senior in high school one time. We have to get this right, and we have to do it right now. The future of Kansas children depends on it.”

 

The court heard arguments last September in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts that argue that the state’s nearly $4.1 billion a year in aid to its 286 school districts is not enough to provide a suitable education for every child.

The state argued that its education system compares well with those in other states and that funding is adequate.

The Supreme Court ruled in May of 2016 that the state’s education funding system remains unfair to poor districts and violates the state constitution, despite three revisions of school finance laws in the past three years.

The state has been in and out of legal battles over education funding for decades, and the latest round began with a lawsuit filed in 2010 by the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita, and Kansas City, Kansas, school districts. One of their attorneys, John Robb, said lawmakers need to pass a “clean plan” to boost the state’s overall spending on schools.

Many Republicans were upset with the court’s ruling last year, arguing that it has overstepped its authority. Some pursued proposals to amend the state constitution to prevent the courts from threatening to close schools in future education funding lawsuits.

The decision comes with the state facing projected budget shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through June 2019. Lawmakers already are considering rolling back past income tax cuts championed by Brownback.

 

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The Associated Press contributed to this story

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