KS Supreme Court rules state met school funding requirements

Published: Jun. 14, 2019 at 9:26 AM CDT
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The Kansas Supreme Court

met their order to adequately fund the state's K-12 public schools. However, the Justices added they will keep jurisdiction over the case until all of the funding is in place.

The justices heard oral arguments in May. During that proceeding, two justices who have pushed lawmakers to boost spending suggested that they want to find a way to end the lawsuit and remove the high court from annual school funding debates.

In June, the court ruled a new school finance bill, adjusting how funding was allocated, satisfied an earlier order to equitably fund schools, but still did not provide enough overall funding. Among the court's concerns was accounting for inflation. They gave the legislature a June 30th deadline to comply with providing adequate funding.

In the May hearing, the state argued lawmakers met that obligation. However, attorneys for the school districts argued the legislature's math was off. They contend the court's requires increasingly larger amounts of money each year through the 2022-23 school year. Under their calculations, the increase for that year would be about $360 million instead of the roughly $90 million under the bill that was backed by Gov. Laura Kelly.

The Supreme Court has issued six rulings directing lawmakers to increase the state’s spending on public schools in a little more than five years, so that aid to public schools tops $4 billion a year — about $1 billion more than it did for the 2013-14 school year. The court said in its order last year that a 2018 law promising additional funding increases into the future wasn’t sufficient because it hadn’t accounted for inflation.

The additional order to retain jurisdiction was based from a request by the plaintiffs, who argued the state had previously failed to maintain adequate funding.

CORRECTION: This story originally stated the Court's equity ruling was handed down last October, rather than in June 2018

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