Kansas Governor Signs K-12 Funding Patch, as Next Step in Aid Spat Looms
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback on Monday signed legislation to provide $38 million more to its poor districts this upcoming school year after the state's supreme court threatened to cut off all school funding unless the legislature made school aid more equitable.
The plaintiff's lawyers, who pushed for money to be added to the funding formula rather than simply redistributed, signed a letter to the court Monday acknowledging that they were satisfied with the new formula. Funding equity was one of two key issues in the Gannon v. Kansas lawsuit.
But the state now has to address a more sticky—and costly—issue regarding the "adequacy" of its education funding. A lower court ruled last year that the state's funding formula falls an estimated $548 million per year short of what school districts need to help students learn the state's standards.
The state's Republicans have committed to devising a new funding formula during next year's session, but Brownback, a Republican, has said the state's economy won't allow for it to contribute much more money to schools. Tax revenue in the Sunflower State has fallen short for the last several months. Many blame the shortfall on a series of income tax cuts Gov. Brownback made in 2012 and 2013.
The Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule on the adequacy part of the lawsuit by early next year.
(Update: The Supreme Court approved the legislature's changes Tuesday.)