Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

Justices want school-finance answers

April 21, 2005

— The Kansas Supreme Court has demanded answers on the school finance law that the Legislature recently approved.

The court did not rule on the constitutionality of the school-funding proposal. But it set up an accelerated schedule for trying to decide the issue.

In clear language, the court said it wanted sides to provide briefs on fundamental aspects of the Republican-dominated Legislature's school finance bill.

In January, the court ruled the Legislature failed to provide suitable finance for schools in the $2.7 billion system. It ordered lawmakers to increase funding based on the cost of education - not political concerns - and distribute that funding in a fairer manner.

The plan adopted by the Legislature increased funding by $125 million and opened the door for local property taxes across the state that could reach nearly $500 million.

Democrats said the proposal provided inadequate funding, was based on politics to avoid a statewide tax increase and further widened disparities between poor and wealthy districts.

Friday, the court said, "Of particular concern to the court is whether the actual cost of providing a suitable education was considered as to each of these components and the financing formula as a whole, and whether House Bill 2247 exacerbates and or creates funding disparities among the districts."

In the order signed by Chief Justice Kay McFarland, the court called for a 9:30 a.m. May 11 hearing to consider oral arguments from both sides.

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