Salina Reeling under state education budget cuts, dozens of Kansas school districts have decided to ask the Kansas Supreme Court to weigh in on school funding.
Members of a coalition of more than 70 school districts voted unanimously Friday on a resolution to ask the Supreme Court to reopen a lawsuit filed in 1999. It led to Kansas Supreme Court orders in 2005 and 2006 that forced aid increases to public schools.
The group, called Schools for Fair Funding, represents 168,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
It wants the court to decide whether the funding formula that legislators created in response to the suit and this year’s state education budget cuts are constitutional, said John Robb, lead attorney for the coalition. He said in a phone interview Friday night that the districts view the litigation as the “lesser of two evils.”
The Kansas Department of Education estimates the total reductions in general state aid to districts at $241 million compared to 2009 levels.
Reopening the old lawsuit is unusual, but would cut six months off the time it would typically take for a case to go to trial, Robb said.
Three Wichita school board members who attended the meeting said they supported the resolution.
Attorneys with the coalition said they anticipate a motion would be filed within the next month.
Should the Supreme Court deny the request, Schools for Fair Funding members authorized the filing of a new lawsuit to address school finances.