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Arguments in Kansas School Funding Lawsuit Set for September

The Judicial Center houses the Kansas Supreme Court. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

The Kansas Supreme Court has set arguments for September 21st in the second part of an ongoing lawsuit over school funding. At issue is whether the state is spending enough on schools.
Republican leaders in the Legislature call the timing of the arguments political, because they’ll take place not long before the fall election. House Speaker Ray Merrick says it’s an effort to direct attention away from retention elections for the justices.
“The timing of the scheduled arguments yet again demonstrates the court’s desperate political motivations,” says Merrick.
Senate President Susan Wagle also blasted the timing of the hearing.
“It begs the question - who has turned our children into pawns in this legal matter and made school funding a political issue?” says Wagle.
Alan Rupe, an attorney representing school districts, says the quick timing makes sense because of the importance of the lawsuit.
“I think they want to take up the issue to get a decision sooner [rather] than later. That absolutely coincides with what I hear from parents and teachers and administrators throughout the state,” says Rupe.
There's a lot of money at stake. Rupe says that if the court sides with school districts, it could cost the state more than a half billion dollars to comply. That could lead to an impasse with lawmakers who are determined to hold the line on education spending. 
Lawmakers recently resolved the first part of the education funding lawsuit, which was focused on whether schools are funded equitably. That issue had threatened to close Kansas schools earlier this month if it wasn’t resolved. The Legislature added around $40 million in aid that helps reduce property tax rates in poorer school districts.

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