Archive for Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Attorneys: State needs to spend $1 billion on schools

January 28, 2004


— Plaintiffs' attorneys in the school finance lawsuit today told legislators they need to increase funding to public schools by $1 billion and overhaul the way school funds are allocated.

"The kids with the greatest needs receive the least amount of money," under the current funding system, Alan Rupe of Wichita told the Senate Education Committee.

The appearance of Rupe and co-counsel John Robb of Newton before the committee marked the first time the lawyers had spoken to the Legislature after winning a lower court ruling against the state.

In December, Shawnee County Judge Terry Bullock ruled that the state was shortchanging students, especially minority students.

He told the Legislature to overhaul the funding formula and cited a consultants' study that said Kansas was under-funding schools by about $1 billion.

Rupe said large and medium-sized school districts with high enrollments of minority and limited English proficiency students were getting the least amount of per-pupil aid from the state.

"That's not rocket science. It's a system that Judge Bullock found unconstitutional," he said.

Rupe said Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' proposal to increase taxes to fund a $304 million plan over three years was inadequate.

Senators were starting to question Rupe and Robb but had to adjourn to convene the scheduled meeting of the full Senate. They were expected to resume the meeting with the attorneys later today.

For more on this story, see Friday's Journal-World.

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