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Kansas Supreme Court Examines School Funding

Associated Press - May 10, 2016 11:53 am

Kansas Supreme Court justices are pondering what would happen if they declare part of the state’s education funding system unconstitutional without shutting down public schools.

The issue arose Tuesday during the court’s hearing on changes in school funding made earlier this year by legislators. The court is considering whether those changes are fair to poor districts.

The court in February ordered lawmakers to improve poor districts’ funding. The justices gave them until June 30 to fix the problems or face having schools shut down.
A lawyer for four Kansas school districts has told the state Supreme Court that it should order lawmakers to boost aid to public schools and can require cuts in all other spending.

Attorney Alan Rupe attempted Tuesday to persuade the court to reject education funding changes made earlier this year by the Republican-dominated Legislature.

The court ordered lawmakers in February to improve funding for poor school districts. The changes leave most districts’ aid unchanged.

Rupe said the court has the power to order lawmakers to increase aid to poor districts. He said the court could also order the state to cut other spending so that schools get more.

The Kansas Constitution requires legislators to make “suitable provision” for financing schools. Rupe said schools have priority over other governmental operations.