Kansas Supreme Court To Issue School Finance Ruling Friday

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/WIBW) - The Kansas Supreme Court will release its ruling on a state school finance lawsuit Friday, ending months of speculation about whether the state has to increase spending for public schools.

The court announced Thursday that the ruling would be issued Friday morning. The justices heard arguments October 8.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by attorneys representing four school districts and parents. They alleged that the state reneged on promises made in 2006 to provide a certain level of funding to Kansas public schools. Those promises were made in a settlement of a lawsuit filed against the state in 1999.

As a result of that lawsuit, in 2005, the Court ordered lawmakers to boost school funding $143 million. The ruling led to a 12-day special legislative session to reach agreement on a funding bill. The Court ruled the measure complied with its order, but kept the case until after the 2006 session. Justices then issued a 4-2 decision, stating a bill boosting spending by more than $540 million over three years met the state's responsibility to adequately fund schools.

However, subsequent reductions in spending led to a new lawsuit. Attorneys for the state argued that legislators did the best they could to maintain education spending after a recession that began in 2008 reduced available revenues.

Gov. Sam Brownback issued a statement Thursday ahead of the ruling.

"I have repeatedly stated and believe funding schools is the most important thing state government does," Brownback said. "The centerpiece of my agenda for the 2014 legislative session is to increase Kansas’s investment in all-day Kindergarten, which is long overdue and a true path forward."

The Democrat challenging Brownback in this fall's gubernatorial election, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, also looked ahead to the court's decision.

"Kansas parents, kids, teachers and business leaders don't need a court order to tell us to fund our schools," Davis wrote in his statement. "Providing our kids with a world class public education is both a moral and constitutional obligation, which is why I offered a plan two years ago to restore school funding. Governor Brownback rejected it, causing class sizes to grow and fees on parents to increase. This discussion is long overdue."

Posted by Melissa Brunner