Kansas Supreme Court Finds Education Funding Unconstitutional

Last year, I wrote here about the ongoing education funding woes for Kansas public schools.  Last year, a three-judge district court panel ruled that public school funding in Kansas was inadequate and inequitable.

Earlier this week, the Kansas Supreme Court issued an opinion in Gannon v. State of Kansas affirming the lower court’s ruling that wealth-based disparities in funding between school districts is unconstitutional. As in Arkansas, the Kansas Constitution requires two components of public school funding to be met: adequacy and equity. The Court ruled that the state legislature’s withholding of certain supplemental general state aid payments and capital outlay equalization payments, which had been made available to school districts based on their local property tax authority in an effort to equalize funding across districts, created unconstitutional wealth-based disparities among school districts.

The Court reversed the lower court’s rulings that the overall level of funding was inadequate, however, finding that the lower court applied the wrong standards. The Court remanded the case to the lower court to made an appropriate adequacy determination. The Court reiterated that total spending alone did not determine whether funding meets the adequacy requirement. Rather, methods and outcomes need to be considered.

The Court gave the state legislature until July 1, 2014 to take action to cure the issue.

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