Kansas Supreme Court rules against new school funding law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that legislators did not increase spending on public schools enough this year and ordered a bigger increase.

The high court on Monday rejected the state's arguments that a new law phasing in a $293 million increase in funding over two years was enough to provide a suitable education for every child. The state is projected to spend about $4.3 billion on aid to its 286 school districts during the 2018-19 school year under the new law.

The court ruled in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts and told lawmakers to write a new school funding law before July 2018.

The school districts argued that the increase approved by lawmakers was at least $600 million short of what was necessary.

Gov. Sam Brownback issued the following statement on Monday in regards to the opinion issued by the Supreme Court.

Alan Rupe is the attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of four school districts in Kansas (Kansas City, Kansas, Wichita, Dodge City, and Hutchinson). Rupe called the Kansas Supreme Court's ruling a victory for the more than 300,000 students in Kansas who have the constitutional right to an education.  

"This victory is bittersweet," said Rupe. "Significant damage has already been done as the State continues to ignore its constitutional obligations. Nearly one-quarter of all Kansas public school students (and higher numbers of harder-to-educate students) are currently failing to meet the State’s standards and are being denied a constitutional education. While we are hopeful that the Legislature will comply with its obligation, we are disappointed that the relief for Kansas public schoolchildren will not come sooner.”

The Kansas Supreme Court issued the following timeline for Kansas lawmakers:

  • April 30, 2018: Parties must brief whether the Legislature’s response (which should be adopted before this deadline) is constitutional. 
  • May 10, 2018: Parties may respond to each other’s briefs.
  • May 22, 2018, at 9 a.m.: Oral Argument
  • June 30, 2018: The Court will issue its decision.

Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle (Republican) issued the following statement:

"It is extremely unfortunate that the Supreme Court failed to allow this new school finance formula, which includes substantially increased school funding to be in effect for a full school year before passing judgment. The ruling shows clear disrespect for the legislative process and puts the rest of state government and programs in jeopardy."

Wagle tweeted that she and her fellow Republicans will not raise taxes.

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