Archive for Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Coalition of Kansas school districts files new lawsuit challenging education funding in state

November 2, 2010


Related document

School finance lawsuit petition ( .PDF )

— 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.


Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Good deal. Gotta do what ya gotta do to make republicans understand that education is more important than they are willing to accept.

kansasredlegs 5 years ago

Sure is a good reason to be a Libertarian ... Brownback may not have had a plan, but don't forget it was Dumocrat Holland who stumped around Kansas saying that Kansas would fund education when the economy improved. Dems don't care either, it just sounds good while they say it.

Shardwurm 5 years ago

So you're saying that throwing money at an already over-bloated system will fix it?

Awesome. Glad you're not running for office.

Orwell 5 years ago

Yeah. Damn teachers. Why, they probably even make make as much as each of the Koch Brothers loses in the sofa cushions! Surely they don't think knowledge should be as valuable as oil! We've given them raises before, and they just go out and blow it all on pencils and chalk!

Stupidity is evidently good enough for the legislature; it ought to be good enough for everyone else.

texburgh 5 years ago

Your ignorance is showing!

1 The teachers union is not a party to the lawsuit; the teachers union was not a party to the last lawsuit; If you read the article, you would realize that "Schools For Fair Funding is a coalition of 63 school districts representing 152,811 students." The union - neither the state union or the local unions have a say in Schools for Fair Funding. The decision to join is up to the locally elected school boards. And before you ignorantly claim that school boards are dominated by teachers, you should understand that teachers are statutorily prohibited from sitting on their employing school board.

2 The legislature asked their researchers (the Legislative Post Audit Division) to examine what happened when the increased money came to schools after the lawsuit. The LPA found out two things - the districts were using the money efficiently and there was nearly a 1:1 correspondence between increased funding and increased test scores. That is quite a bit better than your "almost no correlation." It is in truth a nearly perfect correlation!

But, of course, I wouldn't expect you to rely on facts when you have your teabagger talking points.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"The teachers union is not a party to the lawsuit; the teachers union was not a party to the last lawsuit; If you read the article, you would realize that "Schools For Fair Funding is a coalition of 63 school districts representing 152,811 students." The union - neither the state union or the local unions have a say in Schools for Fair Funding."

Perhaps if you sat down one day and read the original consultant report, particularly the methodology section. And also perhaps took a look at who the witnesses were in the Supreme Court decision. Then maybe you would make such ludicrous statements that teachers had no say determining what constitutes so-called 'fair funding'.

Ricky_Vaughn 5 years ago

Don't get mad at the teachers. The administrators make all the money.

HalsteadHawk 5 years ago

How much are the schools receiving per student right now?

booyalab 5 years ago

They're probably just intimidated by your sophisticated debate tactics.

OreadHawk 5 years ago

what part of NO MONEY dont these people get? get out there and earn a real living !

itwasthedukes 5 years ago

Why put any limits on education spending? As a matter of fact why limit any spending? Oh yeah maybe because with out the federal government plugging the hole last year teachers would have been fired unfortunately Kansas doesn't have a printing press for money. Thats it! We need to buy a money printing press then the problem is solved! I love how all of you think this is about the kids! Useful idiots.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

Money has to come from somewhere. You want more taxes or big cuts? The state voters today are pretty clear they want big cuts.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

Brownback won a year ago, we are just finally making it official.

Steve Jacob 5 years ago

Did not say it was an improvement, just saying the voters know what he will do, cut taxes and cut spending. And the voters want that in Kansas.

Truth 5 years ago

There's more to educating students than raising test scores. When the legislature cut funds to school districts across the state, districts didn't cut their reading or math programs . It was the art programs, the library budgets, the vocal and musical programs, the vo-tech programs. Students need creative outlets and fully-funded libraries with full-time librarians. It's my understanding that some area schools close their libraries half the day - what kind of message is that sending to students?

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"what kind of message is that sending to students?"

That money doesn't grow on trees? Seems like a pretty valuable and practical lesson to me.

weeslicket 5 years ago

now to be fair notajayhawk, you have been arguing that money does, in fact, "grow on trees", (as goes the colloquialism).

if money and weath are, in fact, infinite (as you argue): then money and wealth do, in fact, "grow on trees".

i'm sure there's a practical lesson imbedded in there somewheres.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

So unelected judges (a very few) will decide the level of my state taxes?? That was not what the framers had in mind

MyName 5 years ago

No to paint too fine a point on it, but it seems as if "unelected judges" are simply telling to legislature to do what they said they were going to do and what they were required to do under the Kansas Constitution.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Well, as of today, this lawsuit is vital to the educational well being of our children. Brownback will do his best to gut state funded education. He will do his best to shift the costs of education to the local level, and if successful, will cause an even greater disparity in educational quality around our state. This is a sad day for the children of Kansas.

notajayhawk 5 years ago

"He will do his best to shift the costs of education to the local level"

Good. Then maybe, at the local level, school districts can stop playing this shell game with capital budgets vs. operating budgets, and spend money on teaching instead of new ball fields.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Yes, that would be nice, but what assurance do we have of any of that happening. At least with state funding, it is somewhat uniform. I would hate for my kids to be at the mercy of the Tea Party.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

The local level don't decide on capital and operating budgets, the state does. At least try and be educated on how schools are funded before you comment.

weeslicket 5 years ago

on this point notajayhawk and i agree completely. this would be a very sensible outcome to achieve. still, not holding by breath here.

Shardwurm 5 years ago

Education is the biggest scam in the country. I hope he guts it.

Stephen Roberts 5 years ago

Easy solution, since the school districts are arguing that they do not get enough money from the state, the state should give them more money and then repeal the sales and real estate exemptions for school districts and cut the amount of grants given to the districts by the state. Granted that is easier said than done and no one would ever do that except me because the issue isn't just how much they get from the state it is how they spend it!!!

A couple of years ago, I was talking to a Johnson County client of mine at his office his high school dauhter came and started to complain about not getting enough money from him. Granted I have known them for years but I couldn't resist asking her how she spent the money he gave her. After listening to her for a few moments, I explained to her that she was spending her money on wants and that her parents were providing her with housing, food, a car, clothing, insurance and medical insurance and she was getting a better deal now than she probally would if she had to actually work. She was pissed at me because I didn't side with her and she stormed out. He dad called her a "Johnson County spoiled brat" and she would some day come to realize you can't have everything you want. Maybe someday the schools will learn this concept.

redneck 5 years ago

Amen!!! All taxpayer funded programs need to learn this valuable lesson. My employer isn't going to give me a raise, just because I need a new roof. It's about how you spend the money you have.

redneck 5 years ago

I'm pretty sure the schools have blown money on things they really didn't need in the past, just because they had money left over at the end of the year. I'm sure most of you have heard about the ole "spend all of it, or we will get less next year" crap. All taxpayer funded programs are guilty of doing this in the past. And they have the nerve to piss and moan now, because they need more money. They should have thought about that when they were spending money in the past, just because they had it.

KS 5 years ago

When will these school districts learn that "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH"? The only winners in this are the LAWYERS! How many dollars has this country spent on education over the last 40-50 years with a pathetic result? Hope the Legislature stands up to the Kansas Supremes on this on.

kansasmutt 5 years ago

Too bad they dont put so much into teaching anymore. All they care about is only 12 kids to a classroom and a billion dollar school building.

Just think of the billions and billions they would have to teach with if they wouldnt waste it all on those shiny new schools with dwendeling numbers in student populations.

I hope the judge who works this case can find it in his heart to set the teachers straight and throw this suit out. And to top it off fire 80% of them to get teachers in place to teach , not bitch.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Obviously you haven't been in schools lately. The class sizes are sometimes as much as 30 students, even at the kindergarten through 4th levels. And what brand new schools are you talking about? The state doesn't pay for the buildings. This money is raised by bond issues that are voted on by the people in the district. Try educating yourself on how schools are funded and on how many teachers have been laid off with the remaining teachers picking up the load and not giving each child as much attention. You just come off as uneducated.

kansasmutt 5 years ago

So, your telling me the state doesnt give school districts money for new schools ? You are the one who needs to learn how things work. New schools in over 97 cities in the past 3 years. State funding to operate those schools for the first 2 years to the tune of 1/2 million plus , per school. Class sizes as low as 9 pupils in over 3/4 of those schools.

Too bad those teachers didnt have all that wasted money to spend on teaching and updating computers and equipment that is related to teaching. Those fancy smancy new buildings dont teach a thing, they just suck the towns dry of money.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

I am continually amazed that any teachers would be willing to do the tremendous job that they do. The disrespect that is shown in these posts, is the disrespect that they deal with every day. I would challenge each of you, Commuter, KS, and Mutt, to spend one day in an elementary school observing. You would quickly learn that the teachers want to teach, but instead, have to deal with "behaviors" , and the kids who are good and want to learn are penalized. This is not a suck it up situation. Maybe if parents would do their job, and set a good example, there would be more learning going on. Regardless, our current school financial situation was not created by the teachers, it was created by our society which values personal disposable income, more than the education of our children.

Stephen Roberts 5 years ago

clevercowgirl- how do you know I haven't spent anytime in our schools. While teachers having to deal with behaviors is an issue, the issues are for more complex than you state.

Part of the issue is that we have unins that pay teachers the same in they have the same years of tecahing and education. The same regardless of how well they teach. There is no incentive to be great teacher in this country. The great teachers get frustrated because they get paid the same as the crappy ones.

The school districts are complaining about not getting enough money from the state, my solution would give them more money in base aid but would increase their costs and reduce other money they get from the state. It would force the districts to talk about what they are spending the money on instead of what base aid they get from the state.

I am frustrated that school dsitricts are using taxpayer money to sue the state. I personally think this set a bad example. What is next, higher education is going to sue the state for more money???

kansasmutt 5 years ago

I have been in the schools. 1st thing is the wasted billions $$$ on a building. 2nd They need to do like was done in years past, that is seperate those students who disrupt the class. 3rd Hold parents accountable for the kids actions !!!!!

Too many mamby pamby control freaks running the schools. Bring back the Board Of Education and use it !!!!

Put the 10 comandments back at every school entrance where they should be.

Before you go their. I dont even believe in god, but those comandments are good rules to follow in life.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Here's irony, people posting about education, when they can't even write a proper sentence.

kansasmutt 5 years ago

Who cares how i spell, i am not on here for a grade, i am on here to tell the truth.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Well, the facts are that total educational spending is at or near an all time high. Perhaps the decision to expand "education" to include all sorts of social services other than education is the contributor to the problem. To the tax payer it keeps going up while to the teacher the added distraction of special social needs makes it harder.

I am not sure the argument of "for the children" will continue to work. Reform is needed to refocus education on education and to force the parent to participate. It may seem a good idea to replace malingering parents with social programs to avoid the perceived social costs of neglecting the kids. So far that does not seem to be working. It is angering many people who feel that they must contribute one more time to carry those who will not do their civic job.

And don't tell me about the poor. The poor today are infinitely better off then the poor back when I went to school and schools existed to educate.

One of the significant budding wars within is about the lack of civic responsibility and the propensity of one philosophy to excuse and subsidize it.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

I agree but it may lead to consolidation of districts. I might also point out that counties sized when the speed of transportation was a horse do not belong in our age. Consolidate and save millions that can be better used for education - not social services.

weeslicket 5 years ago

moderate says: Reform is needed to refocus education on education and to force the parent to participate. It may seem a good idea to replace malingering parents with social programs to avoid the perceived social costs of neglecting the kids. So far that does not seem to be working. It is angering many people who feel that they must contribute one more time to carry those who will not do their civic job.

i've had a bug in my head about this very question for quite some time. and, i ask myself a very republican question:
"what would happen if a family would lose its taxable child credits for each child who did not make ayp??"

in other words: if all of your kids pass the test, then when you do your taxes, you keep all your child deductions. if just 1 of your kids fails the test, then you lose exactly the eqivalent of your child deductions for 1 child (let's say $2000). repeat for 2 children (about $4000), and so on.

promote educational excellence and solve the educational budget crises in one felling of swoopiness. what say you?

(what's really funny about this is: what happens when Elected Official XYz loses a deduction? now, that'll be funny.)

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

I fully agree with you with respect that fewer parents today take on the responsibility of raising a citizen. And I would probably agree that the schools are increasinly taking on roles that should be a parental duty. Unfortunately, you need a license for a dog, but anyone can have a baby.

But......I don't think that cutting educational funding will do anything but hurt children and teachers.

Here's an idea. Let's get some auditers to review spending at all school districts. And give the legislature the power to put school districts "On Improvement" for spending.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

....."On Improvement" for overspending.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Who is talking about cutting spending???

As I understand Mr. Brownback he wants to move more of educational funding to the local level. That is not a new idea - we use to do it that way. It does leave the situation in the hands of the local taxpayer rather than using the state to transfer money (to small districts). That could lead to the consolidation of districts (somehing needed) with the freeing up of funding for other educational needs. Note I said educational not somebody's idea of a SOCIAL paradise.

The down side is it moves educational funding from income tax (and business tax) to property tax. Perhaps instead of resisting him we should negotiate with him and get the authroity for a local income tax surcharge (on the state tax process). That would help Lawrence but not school districts with limited wealth. The NEA can not contiue to have an open season on my wallet!!

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

"Moving more of the funding to the local level" - Why? Is he going to reduce our taxes accordingly so we can afford to fund our own USD 497?

Or is he going to keep our tax dollars and allow us to make up the difference?

Does he want to keep our tax dollars to fund corporate charter schools?

While I understand this is not a new idea it may well be a tool known as smoke and screen in the present tense.

Taxpayers should wait for details before we get too excited. It's the details that have been missing on the campaign trail.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Yep. I am not an advocate. Knowing Lawrence the tax increases lovcally will be - well large

irvan moore 5 years ago

so they use our money to sue us for more money? no wonder we're in trouble.

weeslicket 5 years ago

regarding the topic*: this is the sentence we are arguing about: "The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state." (did you find it yet?)

6: Finance. (a) The legislature may levy a permanent tax for the use and benefit of state institutions of higher education and apportion among and appropriate the same to the several institutions, which levy, apportionment and appropriation shall continue until changed by statute. Further appropriation and other provision for finance of institutions of higher education may be made by the legislature. (b) The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state. No tuition shall be charged for attendance at any public school to pupils required by law to attend such school, except such fees or supplemental charges as may be authorized by law. The legislature may authorize the state board of regents to establish tuition, fees and charges at institutions under its supervision. (c) No religious sect or sects shall control any part of the public educational funds.


*you are welcome ljworld.

KS 5 years ago

The school districts already have enough money. This isn't for the "chillin", this is for the lawyers.

Godot 5 years ago

"Coalition of Teachers Unions files lawsuit challenging education funding in order to increase their salaries."

Fixed it for ya, Jonathan.

olddognewtrix 5 years ago

In this discussion it is not recognized that the Ks Legislsture did its own study several yrs ago about what it took to meet the constitutional requirment to provide a suitable eductrion level, and the Legislature ignored its ownstudy results. that was the basis of the Ks Supremee court order of sevral yrs ago that hhe legislature had failed it constitutional requirements.It stil is ignoring its duty under the constitution of Ks.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

They can change the formular and low and behold they will be meeting their obligation.

Godot 5 years ago

This is the year to bring forth a constitutional amendment correcting the vague language of "a suitable education." The state government of Kansas should not be required to fund anything other than reading and writing of the English language, math, civics, history and science. These are basic necessities. Let the local school districts propose to offer additional areas of study, and let the local taxpayers decide if they want to fund them.

Clevercowgirl 5 years ago

Aha, now we know what the Tea Baggers are up to.

frankfussman 5 years ago

Giving the Keys Back to the Folks Who Crashed the Car The 2010 election was the political equivalent of the perfect crime: The GOP vigorously challenged all measures to fix the economy and was then rewarded for it at the polls by transferring the blame.

‎"Former US President George W Bush has... said he "felt like the captain of a sinking ship" towards the end of his presidency when dealing with recession, according to his new book." he left the sinking ship to Captain Obama.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Sneaky are'nt they. Guess we are all just dumb - or could you be missing something??

Determined 5 years ago

Yeah, the Rs did vigorously challenge the Ds. However, the Ds had all the power. There weren't enough Rs or Is to stop the Ds.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Keep a very close eye on USD 497 spending and plans for spending!!!

How should the school district pay for a $16.5 million maintenance backlog in elementary schools?

I say best take care of existing resources first instead of further neglect.

There is talk about portable buildings. Remove them and build on that existing ground. No new school buildings for several years thank you. Repair and expand on existing sites.

George Lippencott 5 years ago

Build with what - the money spent on athletic fields?? Funny how the temporary buildings only became a problem after the fields were built!

KS 5 years ago

merrill - You are starting to sound like a conservative! Nah! Silly me! Sorry!

whats_going_on 5 years ago

I know where 18 million is that could have been used for schools!

Just sayin.

cayenne1992 5 years ago

The elite, progressive (HA) school districts of Dodge City, Wichita, and Hutchinson.

jesse499 5 years ago

Give me more money so we can build more schools instead of using the ones we have. Give me more money so the higher ups in the schools system can raise there pay. If they would do something about the trouble making kids in the schools so the good teachers stayed instead going to other jobs because the parents are not doing there job at home and they end up spending there time being babysitters.Tthe parents blame the schools when there not doing anything to help them at home and if a teacher says there having a problem with a kid the parents blame the teacher because my kid wouldn't do that ! Give them some help people then maybe they could do the job there hired to do and not fear for there life walking the hall ways. Theres alot of good kids that are getting short changed because the teachers have to put up with the bad ones and there no allowed to do anything about it and not getting any help from higherups or parents.

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