Points to Consider

Kansas School Finance Litigation – The Status: November 2013

The Kansas Constitution

  • The Kansas Constitution requires public schools run by local boards of education. (Article 6, Section 5)
    • The Constitution provides that the Legislature shall provide for educational improvement. (Article 6, Section 1)
  • The Kansas Supreme Court has held that this provision “thus imposes a mandate that our education system cannot be static or regressive but must be one which “advances to a better quality or state.” (Montoy 2 278 Kan. 769 at 773 (2005))
  • The Constitution also provides that these schools be suitably funded. (Article 6, Section 6(b))
    • The Kansas Supreme Court has held that the standard most comparable to suitable funding is a requirement of adequate funding. (U.S.D. 229 256 Kan. 232 (1994)
    • Additionally, the Court has held that any finance formula should be based “upon the actual costs to educate children” and not “political compromise.” (Montoy 2 278 Kan. 769 at 775 (2005))
    • The Court has held: “The equity with which the funds are distributed and the actual costs of education, including appropriate levels of administrative costs, are critical factors for the Legislature to consider in achieving a suitable formula for financing education. By contrast, the present financing formula increases disparities in funding, not based on a cost analysis, but rather on political and other factors not relevant to education.” (Montoy 2 278 Kan. 769 at 775 (2005))

The Kansas Legislature’s Duty

  • It is the duty of the Legislature to adequately fund government. This includes schools.
  • The Constitutional standard is to fund the “actual costs to educate children.”
  • The Legislature knows the cost to adequately fund schools. They have specifically commissioned studies on this topic, but continue to ignore their own studies.
    • Augenblick and Myers Cost Study (2002, updated 2012)
      • A&M found that the base should be set at $4650 in 2000-01 dollars, which is $5,965 in 2011-12 dollars,
    • Legislative Post Audit Cost Study (2006)
      • LPA found that the base should be set at $4167 which, when adjusted for inflation and increasing performance standards, is $6142 in 2013 dollars.
    • Inflation- Consumer Price Index increases
      • The base was set at $3600 in 1992 when the school finance act was adopted.
      • The Consumer Price Index shows that the cost of goods and services has increased 59% in the 20 years since 1992.
      • Inflation alone would indicate that the base should be set at $5723 for 2011-12.
    • Multiple indicators show that the base needs to be in the $5700 to $6100 range for school districts to cover the costs of what they have been mandated to do.
    • The base as set in current statutes continues to be $4492.
    • The Legislature has “under-appropriated” the amount needed to fund this statutory base.

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