The Kansas Supreme Court has rejected the state legislature's attempt to fix problems in the school finance formula and has renewed its threat to close public schools on July 1 unless a solution is reached that meets constitutional requirements.
The high court, in a 47-page ruling, concluded that the changes made by the legislature earlier this year as it tried to correct constitutional deficiencies in the school funding law were insufficient.
The judges warned, as they did in a February ruling, that without a funding law in place, the state's 286 public school districts may be forced to shut down.
"And as we cautioned [earlier], without a constitutionally equitable school finance system, the schools in Kansas will be unable to operate," the court stated. "The inability of Kansas schools to operate would not be because this court would have ordered them closed.
"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 Supreme Court had ruled in February that the school funding formula was unconstitutional because it "allowed inequitable distribution of funding." It gave the legislature an opportunity to correct the flaws in the law, and lawmakers passed an amended law in April.
The latest ruling states that the amended law fails to cure the inequities in the law.
"The overall result of the new...funding mechanism...is therefore an exacerbation of inequity among the districts and a failure to satisfactorily respond to our [earlier] decision," the court says.