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Fri March 7, 2014
Court: Schools Unconstitutionally Unequal
The Kansas Supreme Court says the state has created unconstitutional inequalities between school districts by cutting state funds.
School districts and parents filed a lawsuit asking the state to increase education funding. The court says lawmakers created inequality when they cut certain education funds during the recession.
Justices say lawmakers must solve the problem by July, and some estimates indicate that a fix could cost more than $100 million.
Joyce Eisenmenger Morrison is with the group Schools for Fair Funding, which filed the lawsuit.
"Today is a good day for Kansas public schoolchildren. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in favor of the schoolchildren and we’re grateful for that," Morrison said.
But Governor Sam Brownback and legislative leaders say they don't agree that they will have to put more money into the system. Brownback said lawmakers have options such as rewriting that part of the school funding formula. He said he's pleased with the ruling because the court didn't specify an amount the state needs to spend per student, but instead focused on equity.
“The court put this decision down and I think it gives some clarity to the overall situation and I think it puts it back primarily in the equity argument field, which I think is a good thing,” Brownback said.
The court did not rule on the larger issue of whether Kansas is adequately funding education. Justices say a lower court used the wrong test to determine adequacy, so the lower court will have to consider it again.