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Kansas Supreme Court Rules K-12 Funding System Inadequate

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The Kansas supreme court ruled last week that the level of state funding for public schools is inadequate and does not square with the state constitution, giving state lawmakers until the end of June to respond.

Gannon v. Kansas has been one of the most closely watched state school funding cases in recent years. Several districts alleged that the state's K-12 funding is inadequate, which the state denied in a long-running and complex legal battle.

Separately, the court ruled in 2015 that the state's funding system was inequitable. That issue was settled to the court's satisfaction last year by shifting $38 million around within the education budget, but the question of funding adequacy remained.

The March 2 decision on the funding system's adequacy could cause difficulties for lawmakers ponderinghow to dig the state out from a massive budget hole.

The ruling supported its conclusion that the current K-12 funding system is inadequate by citing the nearly 50 percent of African-American students in Kansas who are not proficient in reading or math, and the one-third of students who receive free or reduced-price meals and are also not proficient in those subjects.

"It is incumbent upon the legislature to react to the ruling quickly and in a way that puts the funding levels into constitutional compliance," said Alan Rupe, a lawyer representing some of the districts that originally sued.

Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, said in a statement in response to the ruling that lawmakers have a chance to pursue "transformative educational reform" and called for new school choice measures, without being more specific.

Vol. 36, Issue 24, Page 4

Published in Print: March 8, 2017, as Kansas Supreme Court Rules K-12 Funding System Inadequate
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