Kansas Supreme Court to hear school funding arguments in July

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas Supreme Court has set a date to hear arguments on whether the state’s new school finance law meets their order to adequately fund schools.

The court says they will hear arguments on July 18th, which is past their July 1st deadline for finding a solution to keep schools open.

They will review the new law that would phase in $293-million more dollars to K-thru-12 schools over a two year period.

According to former Republican Senator, and now Special Legislative Counselor, Jeff King, “All the hard work, and the hundreds of millions of dollars in new money they put into the formula, should be constitutional.”

The state spends around $4-billion each year, but the lawyer representing school districts who sued says the new money is still not enough, saying it should be more like $800-million over two years.

“The Legislature has the ability, as they’ve shown, to raise resources,” said Alan Rupe. “There are plenty of resources out there that could be directed to public schools. There’s nothing more important, and it’s constitutionally protected.”

King disagrees, “I certainly believe it’s adequate, and the vast majority of the legislature concurs with that.”

The big question is what happens if the court finds the new law isn't enough? King and Rupe disagree on what the answer should be.

“That the court lets the funding formula provide hundreds of millions of new dollars for Kansas kids this year, and allow the 2018 legislature to take any corrective steps that this court feels necessary,” said King.

Rupe replied, “We’re opposed to that. There’s no question about it, they’ve played the clock on this. They could have passed this bill earlier and they’re pushing up against a deadline, so they can gain another year. And we’ve thrown enough kids under the bus in terms inadequate funding. We don’t need to continue that process.”

Both sides agree an extension should be allowed through July to allow arguments and the ruling.

After that, if the courts deem the formula unconstitutional, Rupe says schools face another issue in staying open, because they have an August 4th deadline by which to present their budgets to the state.