Facing a deadline imposed by the Kansas Supreme Court, the state's governor, Sam Brownback has called the legislature back into session to try to fix the state's flawed school funding formula.
The state Supreme Court ruled last month that the changes made by the legislature in April as it tried to correct constitutional deficiencies in the funding law were insufficient. In doing so, the judges renewed their warning that if the flaws were not resolved by July 1, the state's 286 school districts might have to shut down.
With less than four weeks from that date, Brownback announced that he is calling lawmakers back to Topeka to try to come up with a school aid formula that meets constitutional requirements.
“After discussion with legislative leadership, I have decided to call a special session to keep Kansas schools open, despite the Court’s threat to close them," Brownback said in a prepared statement.
"It is distressing that the Kansas Supreme Court has put the schools and legislature of Kansas in this position over less than 1 percent of school funding.
“I will do everything I can to keep this session focused on education. I am working to arrange the particular dates of the session, which will occur later this month.”
In contrast to Brownback's statement placing blame on the Supreme Court for the education crisis, the judges contended in their May ruling that if school districts were forced to shut down, it would be because of the legislature's failure.
"The inability of Kansas schools to operate would not be because this court would have ordered them closed," the court opinion stated. "Rather, it would be because this court would have performed its sworn duty to the people of Kansas under their constitution to review the legislature's enactments....Simply put, the state legislature's unconstitutional enactment is void; it has not performed its duty."
The high court's ruling in May concluded that the legislature's 2016 changes to the school funding formula failed to eliminate the inequitable distribution of state funds to school districts.