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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Kansas Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: David A. Smith, chief of staff, (913) 279-2242.

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Kansas school children in the Gannon vs. State of Kansas school funding case. In a 110-page document released today, the court upheld the original decision made by a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court that the current levels of school funding are unconstitutional and inequitable.

Key points in the decision:

  • The court ruled that the plaintiff school districts had standing to pursue their claims under Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution.
  • The court affirmed the panel's rulings that the State failed to meet its duty to provide equity in public education as required under Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution, by
    • Withholding all capital outlay state aid payments.
    • Prorating all supplemental general state aid payments.
  • The court sent back to the district court panel the requirement to determine whether the state met its duty to provide adequacy in public education as required under Article 6 of the Kansas Constitution.

"This ruling has profound significance for the future of our students and students throughout the state," said Dr. Cynthia Lane, superintendent of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. "This decision makes clear that the legislature has a constitutional obligation to provide equitable funding for all Kansas children. We are confident that the Kansas legislature will take the necessary steps to fulfill their constitutional obligation."

The Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools was a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in 2010 in Shawnee County District Court, which argued that the legislature was providing constitutionally inadequate levels of funding for schools in Kansas. A three-judge trial court ruled in January 2013 for the plaintiffs, finding that the cuts reduced per-pupil expenditures far below a level "suitable" to educate all children under Kansas' standards.

To remedy the funding shortfall, the judges ordered that per-pupil expenditures be increased to $4,492 from $3,838, the level previously established as suitable. Rather than comply, the state appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.

This is not the first time the state has been involved in litigation for providing inadequate funding to schools. In 1999, school districts filed suit in the District Court of Shawnee County, Kansas, alleging the financing system established by the state Legislature did not meet the Kansas Constitution's requirement to "make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state." The court ruled in favor of the schools in that case, which also went to the Supreme Court. In 2005, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling.

The complete Gannon decision can be viewed online at http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/default.asp.

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Melissa Fears • Communications Office
2010 N. 59th Street • Kansas City, KS 66104 • 913-279-2242