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Still Not Enough, Kansas' Supreme Court Says About State's School Funding Amount

Kansas' Supreme Court Monday said again that the money the state's legislature provides its schools is constitutionally inadequate, far below what its schools need to bring a fourth of its students up to meet basic reading and math standards.

The court gave the legislature another year to come up with what could ultimately amount to more than $1 billion within the next five years.

"The state has not met the adequacy requirement in Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution under its proposed remediation plan," the justices said in the court ruling, posted late Monday afternoon, said. "But if the state chooses to make timely financial adjustments in response to the problems identified with the plan and its accompanying calculations and then completes that plan, the state can bring the K-12 public education financing system into constitutional compliance." 

The court did not, as expected, go as far as it did in 2017 when it threatened to shutter the state's school system until the state came up with a new way to distribute money between its wealthier and poorer school districts. That's a relief to the state's many politicians who are up for election this year. 

The 8-year-old supreme court case, Gannon v. Kansas, has pitted the state's legislature against its court system over who should determine how to spend state money.

In response to a similar ruling late last year, the legislature this year raised its income taxes to provide $548 million over the next five years. According to the legislature's own study, it would cost between $1.7 billion and $2 billion over the next five years in order to provide an adequate education. 

Earlier this year, legislators decided not to pursue an effort to change the constitution so that the supreme court has no say over school spending amounts. Changing the constitution requires three-fourths approval from both the House and the Senate and approval by voters. Lawmakers decided they didn't have enough time to pursue the constitutional change or enough support.  


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