Kansas’ approach to public school funding violates the state’s constitution, said a three-judge panel in a ruling handed down just before the end of the year. The 100-page decision by the Shawnee County District Court upheld that court’s 2013 ruling, faulting the state’s legislature for using unrealistic figures in calculating school funding needs and for tying public school financing to unreliable local budget options, reported the Topeka Capital-Journal.
“We find that as the financing system now stands, one cannot classify the school financing structure as reliably constitutionally sound because the legislature has tied its constitutional duty to the unenforceable precept, yet parochial illusion, of local control and local funding choices as one linchpin for the assurance of constitutionally adequate funding,” judges Franklin Theis, Robert Fleming and Jack Burr said in their decision. The judges declined to mandate a funding level, but did provide several examples of what funding scenarios would be constitutional.
The ruling is the latest development in the case of Gannon v. Kansas, filed by 48 school districts around the state in 2010. After the 2013 ruling, the case progressed to the Kansas Supreme Court. In early 2014 that court ordered the state to put another $130 million into school funding to fix an unconstitutional inequality of resources for poorer school districts, but sent other provisions of the lawsuit back to the district court.