Should You Solve School Funding?

by Melissa Brunner

Kansas is in a budget crunch and public schools are worried they'll feel the brunt of it. To soften the blow, some parents in the Shawnee Mission district wanted an injunction, so they could ask voters to increase property taxes, with the money going to the schools. State law puts a cap right now on how much districts can tax themselves.

What some might call a creative solution for people to take on the burden themselves a federal judge ruled Friday is not allowed. He ruled the school district “has no inherent or statutory authority outside the statutory funding scheme to impose a local tax to benefit the district,” which meant the parents had no standing to file the lawsuit.

You could look at this ruling a couple of ways. If you agree with the parents, you would argue that if we want to tax ourselves to ensure our kids are getting the best education possible, why not be allowed to do so? On the flip side is Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who says the legislature needs to have the authority on school funding in order to balance competing interests. 

In the great realm of those competing interests would be the "haves" and the "have nots." It could be argued that people who live in wealthier areas would be more willing to approve a tax increase for schools and would have greater property values from which to draw. Districts with less wealth would not see the influx of local money. The end result would be some schools floundering while others flourish. Some would argue that already happens.

What do you think? Would you have a concern about districts being able to vote for taxes themselves? Or do you think it's a case of someone needing to step in and take action? Or does the solution lie somewhere in between?


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