Archive for Friday, January 11, 2013

Court rules for plaintiffs in school finance case

January 11, 2013

The Kansas Legislature has violated its constitutional duty to provide suitable funding for public schools, a three-judge panel ruled today.

In a 326-page opinion released today, a three-judge panel that presided over the case effectively ordered the legislature to fund public schools at $4,492 per pupil.

Today's opinion, written by Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis, reflects guidelines handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2005 when it ruled in the case Montoy vs. Kansas that the legislature has a constitutional duty to base funding on the actual cost of providing all the educational services required by law.

Although the current funding law calls for base funding of schools at that level, Kansas lawmakers have not appropriated enough money to fund it since the economic downturn began in 2008. Instead, lawmakers have appropriated smaller amounts of money in the state budget, resulting in pro-rated funding for schools.

The ruling amounts to a 16-percent increase to the $3,838 in per-pupil state aid Kansas public schools are currently receiving, but some area educators aren't sounding any victory bells just yet.

"District officials will be reviewing the court's ruling to determine potential impact, and we are aware that the decision will likely be appealed," said Shawnee Mission school district in a written statement. "Any final determination may not be known until an appeal is heard."

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