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Court Panel Rules Against Parts of Kansas School Funding Law

The Shawnee County Courthouse. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)
The Shawnee County Courthouse. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

A three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court has declared a new block grant school funding system unconstitutional. The panel says the law fails to provide an adequate funding system for Kansas schools.

The top Democrat in the Kansas House, Tom Burroughs, says the state should move back to the old school funding system that was replaced with the block grant plan.


“The old formula has been through the system, has been found to be constitutional and it just needed to be funded adequately and equally,” says Burroughs.
 
Republican Senate President Susan Wagle said in a statement that the judges were trying to take over the role of lawmakers. She also says she hopes the state Supreme Court will show more restraint.

Republican Governor Sam Brownback said today (FRI) that the state would appeal the decision, claiming the panel overstepped its authority. Senate Majority Leader and Nickerson Republican Terry Bruce called the ruling "utter nonsense." House Speaker Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, characterized it as "87 pages of judicial activism." 

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Lawyer for Kansas School Districts Sees Big Victory in School Funding Ruling

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An attorney for four Kansas school districts says they and their students won a big victory when a court ruled that key parts of a new state education funding law are unconstitutional.  Lawyer John Robb also said Friday's decision by the three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court appears to require the state to provide an additional $54 million in aid to districts immediately.  Top Republicans in the GOP-dominated Legislature are reviewing the order.  Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce called the decision "overwhelming" because of its complexity.  The new law junked the state's old per-student formula for distributing aid its 286 districts in favor of predictable annual grants.  Robb represents the Dodge City, Hutchinson, Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, districts. They sued the state in 2010.