Supreme Court Rules Kansas Public Schools are Underfunded

Crowded classrooms, higher fees, fewer after-school programs and staff – if you’re thinking that all sounds like a scholastic nightmare, you’re close. It’s the reality of education in Kansas.

The Kansas government made the decision to cut certain funding to schools as a way to help get the state through the “Great Recession.” The cuts made led to a lawsuit being filed in 2010 on behalf of parents and school districts who felt the state had harmed students, especially those in poorer districts. The case has now been ruled on by the Kansas Supreme Court, and they have found the current funding levels in Kansas public schools to be unconstitutional.

“This is a complex decision that requires thoughtful review. I will have a briefing with the Attorney General. I will work with leadership in the Kansas Senate and House to determine a path forward that honors our tradition of providing a quality education to every child and that keeps our schools open, our teachers teaching, and our students learning,” said Governor Sam Brownback in a statement.
The suit alleged Kansas went back on promised made in 2006 saying a certain level of funding would be provided to Kansas’ public schools. By not providing that funding, parents and school districts have argued that Kansas is denying poor and minority students programs they need to be successful students.
In addition to ruling the funding levels unconstitutional, the Kansas Supreme Court gave lawmakers a deadline of July 1 to provide additional funding for public education. The ruling by the Supreme Court send the case back to a lower court for further action, which may result in a closer look at the overall school finance system.
In their unanimous opinion, the Kansas Supreme Court wrote, “Although adequacy and equality are distinct component of Article 6 (of the Constitution), they do not exist in isolation from each other. So curing of the equity infirmities may influence the (district court) panel’s assessment of the adequacy of the overall education funding system.”
The Kansas Supreme Court has said the state legislature is in fact not adequately public schools and preventing students from receiving equal education across the state. They have less than four months to fix the funding problem, or the district panel which originally heard the case will be permitted to step in and correct the problems.

Kansas Supreme Court is sending mammoth school finance case back to trial court for further action. #ksleg #ksschools
— SuzanneTobias (@SuzanneTobias) March 7, 2014

Court appears to be saying there’s inequality in school funding, but that the lower court didn’t apply the right test on adequacy.
— Emily Behlmann (@ICTBizEmily) March 7, 2014

The court set a July 1 deadline for lawmakers to provide equitable funding for public education. #ksleg #ksschools
— SuzanneTobias (@SuzanneTobias) March 7, 2014

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