The Kansas Supreme Court rejected a proposed school funding law that would phase $293 million into KS schools. Gov. Sam Brownback was not happy.

Kansas Republican governor Sam Brownback is calling a recent Kansas Supreme Court decisionregrettable.” Brownback made the statement on Monday after the Supreme Court rejected a school funding law enacted just this year.

More specifically, Brownback said that the decision was “yet another regrettable chapter in the never-ending cycle of litigation” over education funding. The rejected law brought a $293 million increase in spending on schools over the next two years.

The court ruled in regards to a lawsuit filed by four school districts back in 2010. The court also considered whether the proposed law and its per-student formula would distribute funds equally to poor districts as well as wealthier ones.

The court said that the spending is inadequate to provide a suitable education for every child. Even with the rejection, Republican leaders in the Senate are fighting back. Vice President Jeff Longbine of Emporia, Majority Leader Jim Denning, and Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita of Overland Park issued a joint statement Monday saying the court is making an “unrealistic demand.”

An advocate for the Kansas Association of School Boards said that the courts did not like two particular areas of the proposed legislation.

The Legislature did not demonstrate that the bill that they passed was ‘reasonably calculated’ to allow all students to meet certain educational goals or expectations,” said Mark Tallman to KASB.  “They further said that the bill weakens some of the equity, which is just a way of saying, it shifts burden unequally to different taxpayers. One of the standards of the Supreme Court is districts should be able to raise reasonably similar amounts of money with a similar tax effort. That was the issue a year ago. The legislature corrected that. The court has said in the new law that was passed in this last session, they actually made some of those things worse.”

Alan Rupe, the attorney representing the school districts, said the decision Monday by the Supreme Court affirms that public schools are significantly underfunded in Kansas. Rupe said that the Kansas City, KS, Hutchinson, Dodge City, and Wichita districts demonstrated this fact during a lower-court trial four years ago.

Can Kansas find a way to improve its school districts?

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