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Shawnee District Court Rules in Favor of Kansas Kids

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 26, 2015

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

A three-judge panel of the Shawnee District Court has once again ruled in favor of Kansas school children in the Gannon vs. State of Kansas school funding case. In an 87-page document released today, the court found House Substitute for Senate Bill 7, known as the block grant bill, unconstitutional in providing equitable and adequate funding for Kansas school children.

Here are some of the key points in the decision:

  • The court found the block grant bill entirely unconstitutional as to adequacy noting that it “stands, unquestionably and unequivocally, as constitutionally inadequate in its funding.”
  • The court found the block grant portions relating to the funding of the equity mechanisms unconstitutional.
  • The court avoided striking the entirety of the block grant bill in order to have some funding mechanism in place for the upcoming school year.

“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 (KCKPS). “This decision again reinforces the truth that the legislature has a constitutional obligation to provide adequate and equitable funding for all Kansas children. We are confident that the Kansas legislature will take the necessary steps to fulfill their constitutional obligation.”

The block grant bill was passed by the legislature in March of this year, cutting an additional $50 million in funding for schools across Kansas, and freezing funding levels for schools for the next two budget years. These reductions were on top of the cuts that school districts across the state have seen for the past seven years. The court, in its decision, noted that the changes put in place by the block grant bill could cost the district more than $3 million in funding for new students.

District officials are still evaluating the impact of the decision, and will need to wait to see how the state will implement the court’s order. Nevertheless, the decision is good news for the 22,000 children in KCKPS.

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