Supreme Court of Kansas rules funding structure to school districts is unconstitutional

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TOPEKA, Kan. -- The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the way the state funds its public schools is unconstitutional.

In the lawsuit known as Gannon vs. the State of Kansas filed in 2010, a coalition of school districts and individuals claim the cuts enacted since the economic downturn violate the state’s constitutional requirement that the legislature provides adequate funds for public schools.

The plaintiffs included school districts in Wichita, Hutchinson, Dodge City, and Kansas City, Kan. along with 31 individuals that are either students or their guardians.

While the court ruled that the individuals did not have the standings to file the suit, the districts did rule that "the State created unconstitutional, wealth-based disparities by withholding capital outlay state aid payments to which certain school districts were otherwise entitled."

In a statement released Friday morning following the ruling, Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said:

"Until recently, Kansas had an adequate school funding formula, but that all changed when the state enacted a massive tax cut for the wealthy and passed those costs on to low-income students.

It’s now up to Governor Brownback and the legislature to respect the court’s mandate to fully and equitably fund Kansas schools.

Any attempts to strip the court of its authority or to further undercut the potential of Kansas’ youth would be an assault on public integrity and undermine the rule of law in the state.”

The court set a July 1, 2014, deadline to give the Legislature an opportunity to provide for equitable funding for public education.

For more on the ruling, click here to read the legal documentation published on Friday.

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3 comments

  • squeaky wheeler

    It’s not really fair to redistribute the wealth. I work and I pay taxes in one area, but my money goes elsewhere to persons who may or may not be able to work and who already receive handouts from the government? That’s not really fair.

    What’s really unfair is that my kid is privately educated because our local schools are reprehensible. I still have to contribute to the education of others while paying out-of-pocket for my child to be properly educated in a facility of my choice. That’s not fair. Do I want to steal money from the wealthy in order to achieve a great school system where I’m at? No.