Kansas Supreme Court: Public School Funding Levels Unconstitutional
March 10, 2014 - Posted by Patrick McNeil
The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ruled that current public school funding levels in the state are unconstitutional, siding with four school districts and parents of more than 30 children who sued the state for not adequately funding K-12 education.
“Today’s ruling reaffirms the promise made in the case of Topeka’s Brown v. Board of Education decision and in the Kansas Constitution: that all students share equally in the benefits of a quality public education,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, in a statement following Friday’s decision. “Until recently, Kansas had an adequate school funding formula, but that all changed when the state enacted a massive tax cut for the wealthy and passed those costs on to low-income students.”
That $1.1 billion tax cut, proposed and enacted by Governor Sam Brownback in 2012, was accompanied by a series of school funding cuts that began in 2009 – sinking school funding levels to 16.5 percent below what they were in 2008. In January, a trial court ordered that per-pupil spending be increased from $3,838 to $4,492, but Brownback appealed that ruling instead of complying.
The Kansas Supreme Court set a deadline for July 1 for the Kansas legislature and executive branch to agree on a way to fully and equitably fund all Kansas schools. If they fail to do so, the court instructed the district court to take “appropriate” action.