Archive for Monday, January 11, 2010

Schools seek to re-open funding lawsuit

January 11, 2010, 3:26 p.m. Updated January 11, 2010, 4:46 p.m.


— Lawyers for a coalition of 74 Kansas school districts asked the state Supreme Court on Monday to reopen a 2006 ruling on funding of public schools to determine if the law and spending cuts are constitutional.

Attorneys John Robb and Alan Rupe filed paperwork with the court for the group Schools for Fair Funding, which represents some 168,000 Kansas students. The attorneys said the state has “has chronically rebuked its school funding responsibilities.”

“It has acted in defiance of its own laws, this court’s decisions and the Kansas Constitution,” the attorneys wrote.

The filing asks the court to determine the constitutionality of the current school finance system and of cuts in state aid to districts over the past year. The filing comes on the same day of the opening of the 2010 legislative session.

Sen. John Vratil, a Leawood Republican and an attorney involved in earlier school finance litigation in the 1990s, predicted the Supreme Court will dismiss the petition. He said the Supreme Court isn’t equipped to gather evidence and is likely to conclude that district court is the proper place for the latest challenge to start.

But Rep. Marti Crow, a Leavenworth Democrat who’s also an attorney, predicted the high court would hear the case because it has ruled previously.

“Kansas is known for speedy justice, not kicking things around,” Crow said.

The funding has been reduced as the state struggles with declining revenue. Gov. Mark Parkinson and the Kansas Legislature have reduced total state aid to 2006 levels.

State aid for the 2007-08 school year topped $3.1 billion — or $1 billion more than it was in 2003-04. It’s still $2.87 billion for the current school year.

House Majority Leader Ray Merrick, a Stilwell Republican, called the lawsuit “frivolous” and suggested districts ought to lose a dollar in state aid for every dollar spent on the case.

State Board of Education member Sue Storm, an Overland Park Democrat, said the filing isn’t helpful as officials try to work together to address the state’s budget problems.

The original lawsuit was filed in 1999, challenging the way the level of state funding and how the money was disbursed among districts. The plaintiffs sought increases in funding to improve student achievement among minorities and students living in poverty.

Legislators responded by approving hundreds of millions in funding over several years. The Kansas Supreme Court dismissed the case in 2006 without ruling if the changes to the funding formula or the dollar amounts were in compliance with the state constitution.

The attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to reopen the case and send it to a lower court for trial where evidence regarding the impact of the spending cuts can be presented. If the court denies the motion, the attorneys have said they would file a new lawsuit in district court.

There is no precedent for the Kansas Supreme Court to reopen a case it has dismissed. The attorneys cite a case in Arkansas where the state’s highest court reopened a school finance case when legislators failed to comply with an earlier ruling to increase education spending.


youngitized 8 years, 5 months ago

Well we all know where Ray Merrick stands on educating Kansas kids. It seems to me that he needs to be voted out of office in 2010 and get a candidate who is going to support education.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 5 months ago

And closing public schools in Lawrence will decrease residential property values by 10%. Homeowners should not be expected to absorb this loss.

Asking parents in crowded schools to move their children into smaller classes makes dollars and sense.

School closure is a very important issue; the maintenance of neighborhood schools is crucial to the preservation and revitalization of neighborhoods.

Families will not locate in nor invest in neighborhoods without schools in close proximity for their children. Without families, the chances that a neighborhood will maintain its value are low.

Research in the Journal of Urban Economics (one of the nation’s top academic journals) finds that when neighborhood schools are closed, property values drop by about 10 percent.

Kirk McClure KU Prof.

Who is Kirk McClure?

Education Ph. D., City Planning, University of California, Berkeley, Department of City and Regional Planning, 1985. Concentrations in Housing Economics and Public Finance.

Master in City Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 1978. Specialization in Housing Policy Analysis.

Bachelor of Arts, University of Kansas, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1974. Special Major in Urban Studies.

Bachelor of Architecture, Graduated With Distinction University of Kansas, School of Architecture and Urban Design, 1973.

==================================== Homeowners cannot absorb this loss

City and county governments cannot afford the loss of tax dollar revenue due to yet another reduction in property values

USD 497 CERTAINLY cannot afford the lost tax dollar revenue due to 10% reduction in property values

==================================== CENTER FOR URBAN POLICY AND THE ENVIRONMENT DECEMBER 2003

What determines the price of real estate? Location. Location. Location. This cliché is a good starting point for a discussion of property values and public choices, for it leads to the question why property values vary in different locations.

Most property owners know from experience that similar properties in different neighborhoods can command vastly dif- ferent prices. But many may not realize that public choices can have large effects on property values. Public choices about capi- tal investments, public services, and taxation affect property val- ues because their impacts vary in different places.

A new highway interchange, for example, generally increases the value of nearby property because it increases its accessibility.

Conversely, a decision to close a school or a neighborhood police station may decrease the value of property in the neighbor- hood.

In public policy debates, moreover, decisionmakers often lack information about how their choices will affect property values.

ModerateOne 8 years, 5 months ago

Who is Kirk McClure? A rather longwinded fellow who is so talented that it took him about 21 years at KU before he was able to obtain to attain the status of full professor.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 8 years, 5 months ago

Crap like this is why we are $ 400 million dollars in the hole.Thank you, Lynn

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