Dozens of school boards who have helped foot legal bills for the seven-year lawsuit to increase funding for Kansas public schools are not satisfied with the $500 million increase in funding approved during the 2018 Kansas Legislative Session. With the ink barely dry on the bill to increase school spending, Kansas is already headed for a fresh round of legal arguments in the case.
School districts suing the state say the plan falls short in part because it will happen gradually over five years. They want the Kansas Supreme Court to make the state pay out $506 million this fiscal year.
Both sides in the seven-year lawsuit, Gannon v. Kansas, filed their briefs Monday. On May 22 they will make their pleas to the court in person.
The plaintiffs want the court to declare the new school funding law unconstitutional — and to make the Legislature and Gov. Jeff Colyer hammer out another solution by the end of June.
This winter the Legislature commissioned a third-party study to calculate what it would take to help students succeed in school, and that study pointed to figures well above $1.5 billion.
The plaintiffs point to that in their briefs, but the state’s lawyers argue the consultants based their math on achieving academic goals that no state has achieved and that are more aggressive than the Kansas State Board of Education’s own policies.
Plaintiffs also argue Kansas’ new plan is unfair to poorer school districts, because of how it ties in property taxes that are harder to raise in those areas. Two of the state’s largest, highest-poverty districts are among its formal plaintiffs — Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas.