More about school finance
- Webcast of live arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court (requires Windows Media Player)
- Brief of the Montoy suit (.pdf)
- Timeline of events in school finance lawsuit
- 6News video: School finance bill to face court
- Plaintiffs: School finance bill fails grade (06-13-06)
- State wants high court to dismiss school suit (06-02-06)
- Legislature approves school finance plan (05-10-06)
- Chat with Bob Corkins, Kansas Education Commissioner (02-02-06)
- House roll call on $148.4 million school finance plan (07-07-05)
- Supt. Weseman's contingency plan (07-06-05)
- More about school finance »
- Conference Committee on Senate Bill 549
- House bill info
- Senate bill info
- Kansas public schools cost study
- Kansas public schools cost study executive summary
- Public Education Finances 2004 (.pdf)
- Senate roll call on $148.4 million school finance plan
- Supreme Court's Show Cause Order (07-02-05)
- Supreme Court's Order Denying Extension (.pdf)
- Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 1603 (.pdf)
- Supplemental Note on Resolution No. 1603 (.pdf)
TOPEKA Gov. Kathleen Sebelius hopes a new plan to increase school funding by $541 million over three years at least buys the state time from the Kansas Supreme Court.
Sebelius acknowledged today that the plan doesn't follow all recommendations contained in a court-ordered study of education funding, issued in January by the Legislative Division of Post Audit. But she said she wants the justices to give legislators more time to correct any deficiencies.
"I'm hopeful that the court will find this a good-faith effort," Sebelius told The Associated Press today. "It clearly isn't the exact number that the Legislative Post Audit recommended. I think we are still short of dollars."
The court plans to hear arguments at 9:30 a.m. Thursday on whether the plan fulfills the Legislature's duty under the state constitution to finance a suitable education for every child. Attorneys who sued the state contend the plan still falls $985 million short of meeting schools' needs.
Sebelius said she has some policy concerns, such as how best to identify children who are at risk of failing in school, so that their districts can receive extra dollars to help them. Another issue, she said, is whether rural schools are receiving too big a share of the state's dollars - a question already before the court.
The court's hearing will be the latest development in a seven-year dispute initiated by parents and administrators in Dodge City and Salina. The court ruled last year that the state hadn't met its constitutional obligations because it spent too little money on its public schools and distributed the money unfairly.
Legislators last year increased aid by $290 million, or more than 10 percent. While the Supreme Court signed off on the Legislature's actions, it said it could order larger increases in the future, depending on what the Post Audit study said.
The study said the state needed to increase its aid for the 2006-07 term by at least $400 million for schools to meet the state's academic requirements. But legislative leaders believed that if they approved a multiyear, bipartisan plan, the justices might accept it.
Sebelius said the additional money provided schools last year and this year represents "a huge step forward for the children of Kansas."
Most legislators had wanted to avoid raising taxes to finance additional aid for schools, and the plan they approved this year relies on existing revenues. They and Sebelius hope the economy grows enough, increasing tax revenues enough, that the state won't face financial problems during the plan's third year.
"I'm hopeful that if this doesn't quite meet all the expectations, that the direction may be to come back and readdress this in years two and three," Sebelius said.