Kansas School Finance Case Goes To Judges

By: Suzie Gilbert / AP
By: Suzie Gilbert / AP

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Judges say it may be months before they rule on whether the state's method of funding public schools is constitutional. A three-judge panel heard final arguments Wednesday (8/29) in Shawnee County District Court.

Gannon v. State of Kansas challenges the state's school finance system, saying funding cuts have hurt student achievement. Lawyers for parents, and for dozens of Kansas school districts, say when money is taken away from Kansas schools, performance levels drop.

"We have fallen behind with a lot of kids in the state of Kansas," Attorney Alan Rupe says the state has failed to live up to its promises to increase K-12 funding, something ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2006. He says instead, the state legislature cut $511 million, when the cost of education has risen.

"We come up with thousands and thousands of kids in Kansas that aren't being provided an adequate level of education," Rupe said.

Attorneys for the state of Kansas say there's no evidence of statewide education inadequacy. Attorney Arthur Chalmers says Kansas school spending is at record levels, and that the state already spends more than 50-percent of its budget on education.

"Just by pouring more money in the system without any controls on how it's spent, you won't necessarily get any real impact," Chalmers says Kansas is meeting constitutional standards. He says adding more school funding could have disastrous effects for the Kansas economy.

Rupe says Kansas shouldn't sacrifice a generations of students just because the economy is weak. He says the school funding decisions were based on political convenience.

"A dollar spent on school funding translates to money in student achievement," Rupe said.

Judges Robert Fleming, Jack Burr, and the presiding Judge Franklin Theis say it could be 60 to 90 days before they reach a decision.

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