Kansas's "block grant" public education funding system does not meet the needs of the state's students and was therefore unconstitutional, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday. Once those concerns were met, the court began looking at whether the state was adequately funding schools.
It's up to the Legislature to find that money, of course, but Ottley said that will have to start with a new funding formula.
Jerry Minneman, Ell-Saline School District superintendent, was unavailable for comment Thursday.
They found that the state's most recent iteration of the Classroom Learning Assuring Student Success Act, or CLASS, which caps funding for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years at 2015 levels, does not resolve the constitutional issue.
Attorneys for four school districts that sued the state over education funding in 2010 said the increase must be at least $800 million, but lawmakers didn't immediately accept the figure.
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"The things that Emporia is concerned about in any new funding formula is a little bit different than the things other districts would be concerned about in other parts of the state", Scheib said.
In response, Brownback called on the Legislature to promote private schools, or, in his words: "engage in transformative educational reform that puts students first".
"Given the extensive record and the complex, and in many cases, novel questions this appeal presents, Plaintiffs believe that the Court is in the best position to determine when hearing the argument would be most beneficial for a thorough disposition of the several issues raised in this appeal, after it has had time to assess the briefs submitted by the parties", the attorney representing CCJEF wrote the court this week. Kansas lawmakers are now on break this week, but as Ward says, they will have to act quickly to draft new legislation to meet the court's deadline.
Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine of Emporia says the state could have to add anywhere from $500 million to $800 million to the pot at a time when the current year budget is around $280 million short and the 2018 fiscal double could be nearly double that.
"We have our work cut out for us", he said.
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The decision portends a fight with the Republican-controlled legislature over how to remedy the situation and marks another chapter in a long-running political and judicial battle over school funding in Kansas.
"We do have to address the education on the lower end, whether it's because of poverty, English language learners, special education disabilities", Sykes said.
Funding to cover increased costs of current programs due to inflation, competitive salaries and enrollment growth. He said the ruling says that Kansas students have received an inadequate education, and he said that's not because teachers haven't been working hard or kids haven't been performing, but it's because they have not received the resources they need.
"The Kansas Constitution empowers the legislative branch with the power of the purse". If the Legislature fails to accomplish this task then the state's education financing system "is constitutionally invalid and therefore void". The court has given lawmakers until June 30th to come up with a new funding formula plan. Success is not measured in dollars spent, but in higher student performance.
Thankfully, Kansas still has an independent judiciary that will call them on it.
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The Kansas Supreme Court is preparing to rule on whether the state is spending enough money on its public schools to provide a suitable education for every child.