KOFO Local News

Supreme Court: School funding unconstitutional; schools ordered to close July 1

Posted in Uncategorized by kofonews on February 11, 2016

TOPEKA — In an opinion issued this morning, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed with a lower court that the state’s school funding system is unconstitutional.  However, the high court extended the lower court’s deadline for legislators to fix school funding to the end of the state’s fiscal year June 30.  However, the court says that if legislators don’t fit it, after June 30, the state can’t spend any money on schools.  “And because an unconstitutional system is invalid, efforts to implement it can be enjoined,” effectively closing all public schools.  Last year, legislators scrapped the school finance system and replaced it with a block-grant system that froze this year’s school funding at last year’s level.  The court found that unconstitutional.  The new block-grant system fails to correct inequalities in funding, and in fact, widens the funding gap between rich and poor districts, the court said.  Today’s ruling is the first of a two-parter involving a school funding lawsuit called Gannon.  Today’s ruling deals with the question of “equity,” whether school aid is being shared fairly among rich and poor school districts, as mandated by the state constitution.  The second part of the Gannon lawuit deals with “adequacy,” on whether the state is providing enough funding to ensure students are receiving an appropriate education.  “In other words, the Legislature must provide enough funds to ensure public school students receive a constitutionally adequate education and must distribute those funds in a way that does not result in unreasonable wealth-based disparities among districts.”  The court said a ruling on the second part of the lawsuit will be later this year.

Thursday, Feb. 11, 10:30 a.m.

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