Kansas lawmaker suggests cutting funds from programs for gifted students to help struggling students

TOPEKA, Kan.  — Kansas Supreme Court justices have briefly considered whether the state could pay for a suitable education for every child by shifting funds out of programs for gifted students.

The court heard arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed in 2010 by four school districts. Justice Dan Biles suggested during the arguments that the court might have to target its order to helping underachieving students.

KCK is one of four districts that sued the state, claiming lawmakers are not giving them enough money to properly educate kids.

The district’s attorney argued that standardized test scores in math and English show a third of Kansas students struggling in the classroom. Many of those come from poorer homes, are bilingual or have special needs. He wants the state to boost school spending by at least $800-million a year to help those students perform better.

The State Solicitor believes the state is spending enough on schools right now and argued that increasing school funding would not necessarily improve test scores.

During the hearing, one justice wondered if they should take away money from gifted programs to use on struggling students, and another justice suggested that any additional funding might need to be focused strictly on the one third of students who are struggling.

There’s no word on when the justices will hand down their decision, but regardless of what they decide, lawmakers are making a new school funding formula their top priority when they return to work this January.