Kansas Supreme Court

Kansas school funding still inadequate, court rules

June 26, 2018
The state Supreme Court says legislature didn't boost spending enough, but gives lawmakers another year to boost education aid.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state legislature's latest school funding plan still falls short of what is required by the constitution.

However, The Kansas City Star reports, the judges gave lawmakers another year—until June 30, 2019— to remedy the funding shortfall.

"The State has not met the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution under its proposed remediation plan," the court said. "But if the State chooses to make timely financial adjustments in response to the problems identified with the plan and its accompanying calculations and then completes that plan, the State can bring the K-12 public education financing system into constitutional compliance."

The judges ruled the legislature has met its responsibility to distribute funding equitably, one of two prongs it had to meet to achieve a constitutional result. [CLICK HERE to read the entire Supreme Court opinion.]

The Legislature is bound by the state constitution to provide "suitable" funding for education. 

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that lawmakers were not fulfilling their obligations.

Appropriations for public school funding had to meet two tests to satisfy the constitutional mandate: First, funding has to be sufficient to enable school districts to provide students with a suitable education. And second, funding must be distributed equitably so that children in poor districts have an opportunity to obtain an education of roughly similar quality to what's provided in wealthy districts.

In October, the court set a series of deadlines to correct the deficiencies the justices found. Lawmakers responded to the court order with a plan to phase in about a $500 million increase over the next five years.

But that falls substantially short of the $1.7 billion to $2 billion increase recommended by a Texas A&M University expert the legislature hired to analyze school funding and make recommendations.

Because of the wide divergence between the legislature and its own consultant, the justices appeared mostly skeptical of the state's position when the case was argued before the court in May.

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