KS Supreme Court rules school funding inadequate
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Yesterday, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that state funding to the district’s schools is inadequate and the Legislature must rework the s finance formula by June 30.
“The state’s public financing system provided by the Legislature for grades K-12, through its structure and implementation, is not reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed educational standards,” the court ruled.
An exact figure for how much funding is needed wasn’t included in the ruling, but Laurie Folsom, president of the Lawrence Education Association and Free State journalism teacher, pointed to previous estimates from a lower court that $500 million would be a minimum. At the same time the estimated deficit for the fiscal year ending on June 30 is $300 million.
“[The Legislature was] already talking about cutting funding for this school year,” Folsom said. “The legislature is talking about taking back money [the legislature] promised school districts this year. They’ve done this before and they’re talking about making schools districts give back money before the end of the school year. So it’s like, how do you get more [money]?”
Shannon Kimball, school board vice president, thinks that in order to accumulate the funds, the Legislature will look at a tax increase.
“Our budget is already underwater,” Kimball said. “We don’t have enough money even with what the Legislature committed to pay for in the current year. It is going to require them to commit to raising additional revenue in some manner.”
Science teacher David Reber has been in education long enough to remember when the Kansas Supreme Court made a similar ruling over a decade ago.
“In 2006…the legislator redid how they were funding some things and the [Kansas] Supreme Court said ‘that’s good enough,’” Reber said. “They said ‘ok that’s different enough’ so that the original lawsuit no longer applies because you’re doing something totally different. Then, of course, the state got sued again, and here we are.”
Reber predicts the outcome of the case is that the Legislature will change the system of state funding but ultimately will not lead to more funding for school districts.