Kansas schools will stay open while Supreme Court decides if new funding law is constitutional

June 20, 2017
Lawmakers have approved additional funding for schools, but justices have not ruled on whether it was enough to resolve constitutional deficiencies.

Kansas legislators are waiting to see if the funding law they passed earlier this month meets the requirements of the state constitution, and the state Supreme Court says it will allow public schools to keep operating while it reviews the legislation.

The Kansas City Star reports that the Supreme Court decision to allow the new school funding law to go into effect even though the court case is unresolved eliminates the possibility that schools will run out of money at the end of June and have to shut down.

The Supreme Court Is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the new law July 18. A decision could come soon after.

The justices ruled in March that the legislature had until June 30 to enact a school funding law that meets the state's constitutional requirement for suitable school funding.

The legislature passed, and Gov. Sam Brownback approved, a funding plan that boosts education spending. But attorneys for a number of school districts challenging the state’s funding levels say it is not enough.

The bill will give schools overall about $195 million more in the next budget year and about $290 million more in the year after that. Lawyers for the school districts that brought the suit have estimated that constitutional compliance could cost the state from $400 million to more $1 billion in funding.

Uncertainty about funding had impeded districts’ ability to plan for the 2017-18 school year. But neither the attorneys representing the districts nor the state wanted a school shutdown. Both sides agreed to allow the law to go into effect while the court deliberates, the order said.

Schools could still be disrupted, however, if the court rules the law unconstitutional in late July and requires immediate action from the Legislature.

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