KS Court rejects some education funding changes

Posted at 5:11 PM, May 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-29 13:47:28-04
The Kansas Supreme Court is threatening again to close the state's public schools and has rejected some education funding changes enacted by legislators earlier this year.
The court ruled Friday on a law that revised parts of the state's funding formula but resulted in no change in total funds for most of the state's 286 school districts.
The justices said legislators didn't fully comply with an order it issued in February to make education funding fairer to poor school districts. The court said all schools must remain closed unless lawmakers fix the problems by June 30.
The court made the same threat in February, and the Republican-dominated Legislature passed the changes in hopes the court would relent.
KCK superintendent approves of rejection
KCK Superintendent Cynthia Lane said she was pleased with the Supreme Court's decision.

"One of the most powerful things the court did was remind us how important equitable education opportunities are for all children in Kansas," she explained.

Facing the possibility of a possible school shutdown across the state later this year, Lane said the city is ready for whatever happens.

"We have an emergency closure plan that we have developed. All good leaders plan for the worst," Lane explained. "Staff have been advised. If we get close to that point [of a shutdown], we will increase our communication to staff and the community."

Brownback levies accusations of judicial activism
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback issued a statement Friday night in response to the Supreme Court's ruling. In it, he accused the court of overstepping its bounds in state government.
"It is unfortunate that the Kansas Supreme Court has put at risk the education of Kansas students by threatening to close schools on June 30," Brownback said. "The court is engaging in political brinksmanship with this ruling, and the cost will be borne by our children."
Brownback also said that his government will carefully consider the implications of the court's ruling and "its disregard for the proper role of the Kansas legislature."
So what's next?
The decision from the Supreme Court now means state leaders will have to get back to work on finding a proper school funding system.

"All of us are scrambling to try and understand," explained State Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Republican who represents Mission Hills. "Constitutional rulings are complicated."

Bollier said state lawmakers will work hard to make sure students and staff can get back to the classroom.

"We're going to do everything we can to make sure students are in school and they stay open," she said.

Lawmakers were scheduled to meet Wednesday to formally adjourn their annual session; now, they will likely be scrambling, once again, to fund their state's public schools.

Previous coverage:

Kansas Supreme Court invalidates school funding law

Johnson County conservatives host meeting to make sense of Kansas school finance

Kansas school finance fix nowhere toward being done 

Kansas Supreme Court reviews lawmakers school aid fix