School finance lawsuit petition ( .PDF )
Topeka As Kansas voters elected state officeholders Tuesday, advocates for more school funding filed a lawsuit alleging that the Legislature has violated the Constitution by short-changing public school students.
“This situation is ridiculous,” said Schools For Fair Funding attorney Alan Rupe. “Kansas school children should not have to go to court every few years to get what the Kansas Constitution dictates and what the Kansas Supreme Court and every other responsible adult in the state of Kansas wants for kids -- an adequate education,” he said.
Schools For Fair Funding is a coalition of 63 school districts representing 152,811 students.
A 2006 Kansas Supreme Court settlement of an earlier school finance lawsuit was reached after the Legislature adopted a three-year funding plan.
The plan called for $755 million in new funding, but since then the Legislature and governor have cut $300 million from schools.
“This trainwreck was certainly foreseeable,” said John Robb, general counsel for Schools For Fair Funding. “Those who oppose public education never intended to make good on their commitment to children of Kansas. They intentionally cut state revenues and then plead poverty when it came time to fund the formula.”
Supporters of the cuts have said they were necessary as tax revenues dropped when the recession hit Kansas.
The lawsuit, which was filed in Shawnee County, now will be forwarded to a three-judge panel to hear the case.
The lawsuit does not seek an overhaul of the current school finance formula. “The current formula simply needs to be funded,” Robb said. “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The formula doesn’t need to be abandoned in some smoke and mirrors, illusory change,” he said.