Arguments over adequate school funding begin today in Topeka

Topeka Capitol building (KSN File / Craig Andres)
Topeka Capitol building (KSN File / Craig Andres)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – A few months ago, the state resolved part of the school funding formula, but today, the Kansas Supreme Court is back to hear arguments for more school funding.

Attorneys for cash-strapped Kansas are trying to persuade the state Supreme Court not to order hundreds of millions of dollars in additional aid each year for schools.

But lawyers for four poorer local school districts, who will present arguments before the court Wednesday, say they are confident the judges will side with them.

While both sides will share their arguments today, a ruling isn’t expected some time.

The Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, districts sued in 2010. They contend legislators aren’t providing enough aid to give every child a suitable education, as required by the constitution.

The six-year legal dispute has brought the court into repeated conflict with GOP conservatives who control the rest of state government.

The justices are considering whether the state’s nearly $4.1 billion in annual aid to school districts is sufficient or up to $1.4 billion short.

If the state is forced to pay more, some fear it would impact other services such as higher education, public safety and taxpayer money

“Our briefs fully detail the state’s legal arguments,” said Derek Schmidt, the Kansas Attorney General, in an emailed statement. “There is vigorous and healthy political debate throughout the state about the funding of public schools. With Kansas students performing well, the constitution does not, in the state’s view, require the judicial branch to cut that debate short.”

Schmidt argues the state can handle the school funding on its own without interference.

KSN reached out to Alan Rupe, an attorney representing the school districts, who says the court’s job is just to decide what’s constitutional and what’s not.

“The Kansas constitution and the Kansas Supreme Court are not going to be in the business of figuring out where to get the resources to pay for the additional funding needed to accomplish a suitable constitutional education,” Rupe said.

Today’s hearing begins at 9 a.m. and the arguments will be streamed here.

Check back with KSN at 5, 6 and 10 for the latest updates on the case.

Comments are closed.