Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Kansas Court rules current education funding unconstitutional

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- A three-judge district court has ruled that school funding in Kansas is currently at an inadequate level under the Kansas Constitution. 

The panel ruled the state needs to spend an additional $548 million to $771 million a year.

Below are some reactions across the state.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback:
“I am still digesting the full implication of the district court’s 116-page ruling. I continue to believe that restructuring the school funding formula and implementing education policy reforms is critical not only to getting more money into our classrooms but also improving student achievement. I will be working with legislative leadership to address the best path forward.”
State Attorney General Derek Schmidt:
“We are disappointed by today’s ruling by the panel, which in areas seems in tension with the Kansas Supreme Court’s guidance. We are assessing the opinion and evaluating all of our options.”
Schools for Fair Funding:
Superintendents from the lead Kansas school districts in the Gannon v. State of Kansas school finance litigation responded today to the Shawnee County District Court three judge panel ruling on school funding. The Superintendents expressed appreciation for the favorable ruling while urging legislators to wait on school funding decisions until the Kansas Supreme Court rules on the case. 
A three judge panel again ruled today that underfunding the school finance formula is unconstitutional. The ruling is part of ongoing court litigation that resulted in a Kansas Supreme Court finding in early 2014 that the State was not equitably funding education. While the legislature remedied that issue during the 2014 session, the Supreme Court sent back to the district court the issue of whether Kansas children were receiving a constitutionally adequate education based on the Rose standards. Today's decision was in response to the Supreme Court directive. 
Paraphrasing the language of the Supreme Court, the Panel found that "the Kansas public education financing system provided by the legislature for grades K-12 - through structure and implementation - is not presently reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed the Rose factors.” 
“An educated workforce is key to Kansas’ economic success," said John Allison, Superintendent of the Wichita Public Schools-USD259. "I am pleased to see the court’s affirmation that an adequately-funded education is of vital importance to Kansas. While we won’t immediately know the impact of the ruling, we do believe today’s court decision is a great one for today’s students and the future of our state." 

U.S.D. 308 Superintendent Shelly Kiblinger of Hutchinson echoed those comments. "A final decision from the Supreme Court may take up to a year, so any change to school budgets and the funding formula would be premature until we get that ruling." 
According to the court, the formula and its various weighting components are not the problem. The formula is constitutional. The problem continues to be the lack of funding appropriated by the legislature to make the formula operate as required by the State constitution. The panel emphasized that the State is ultimately the party responsible under the Kansas Constitution for ensuring the adequacy of public education. 
"We expect that this case will be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court,” said Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. “In the meantime our goals remain the same and those are to prepare every student for college and careers in a global society." 
In Dodge City, U.S.D. 443 Superintendent, Alan Cunningham said "In order to accomplish the goal of making every child college or career ready, we need appropriate resources to do our jobs. We continue to have faith that the Kansas legislature will work to ensure that every Kansas child has access to an adequate and fully funded formula  for education."