Several Kansas school districts and the state legislature have been battling for two decades over school funding. In early 2014 the the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the state needed to fix the issue of fairly funding schools across the state. The legislature then shifted education funding budgets to address the problem. The issue of whether the state was adequately funding education was sent back to a three judge panel to apply a standard to determine whether the state is adequately funding education. This lower court ruling is expected in late 2014.
So far more than a dozen different Kansas judges over the past 20 years have come to the same conclusion… that the legislature is shortchanging Kansas education.
Schools For Fair Funding that represents more than one-third of Kansas public school children, sponsored the Montoy litigation starting in the early 1990’s which was responsible for school funding increases for all schools. The courts affirmed that the Kansas constitution states the legislature shall provide for adequate education. The courts stated that funding should be based on actual costs to education children and not “political compromise.”
As the economy soured in 2009, the state began to cut school funding rather than raise revenue which was a violation of the Kansas constitution.
In 2010 SFFF brought a new lawsuit, Gannon vs. State of Kansas, seeking to restore the cuts that have been made to all schools and to increase school funding back to constitutionally required levels. The Gannon case was filed when the legislature failed to follow through with a funding agreement that ended the Montoy case.
In recent years the Legislature has cut income taxes rather than fund education. It has reduced Kansas taxes by over $1 billion a year, knowing that the state would not be able to keeps its mandated funding commitment to schools.
In 2010 an advisory body appointed by the legislature studied the cost of education in Kansas. The chairwoman summed up its report.
“…the Commission believes we cannot sacrifice a generation of Kansas students because the economy is weak. It is time for the Legislature to take steps to ensure that the revenue and funding policies of the Legislature allow every Kansas student to achieve his or her full potential.”
Here’s more detailed information on the school funding litigation.