Archive for Tuesday, September 21, 2010

School finance lawsuit expected to be filed next month

September 21, 2010, 12:17 p.m. Updated September 22, 2010, 9:34 a.m.


— Legislators on Tuesday started preparing for a lawsuit that will be filed against them by schools that allege the state has failed to fulfill its constitutional obligation to adequately fund education.

Deputy Attorney General Patrick Hurley said the lawsuit by Schools for Fair Funding, a coalition of more than 70 school districts, could be filed as soon as Oct. 15.

Hurley told members of a Special Committee on Education that he expects the litigation could take 2 1/2 years or more. The attorney general's office has hired the Wichita law firm of Hite, Fanning & Honeyman to help it represent the state in the lawsuit,

Schools for Fair Funding won significant school funding increases in 2005 and 2006 when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the school finance formula failed to adequately and equitably fund schools.

But as part of the recent budget crisis, schools have been cut more than $300 million during the past two years.

Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe, asked Hurley what would happen if the Legislature refused to comply with a court order to increase school appropriations.

"It could potentially create a very interesting constitutional problem for the state," Hurley said.

Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, said of the Legislature's last confrontation with the Kansas Supreme Court over school finance: "We didn't want them to take over education, so we capitulated and let them take over appropriations."

Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, said the state should try to avoid litigation and settle the issue out of court. "We recognize the goal is to restore the cuts that have been made," he said.

Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis said legislators would have to increase school funding by $415 million to comply with the level of funding approved by the state in 2008.

School funding, which makes up more than half of the state budget, has become a contested part of the governor's race.

Republican Sam Brownback has said he wants to overhaul the school finance formula, but has refused to say how. Democrat Tom Holland, a state senator from Baldwin City, has said as the economy improves he wants to make up the funding cuts to schools.

On Tuesday, Holland was endorsed by Republican Bill Kassebaum, a former state legislator, who cited Holland's commitment to schools.

Referring to Brownback, Kassebaum said, “The Republican candidate wants to alter the funding formula, which I think will only create a system of ‘haves’ and ‘haves not.’ Wealthy districts will have the resources to provide a suitable education, but non-wealthy and many rural school districts will not.”


Paul R Getto 5 years, 2 months ago

The legislature made it much harder to do this, but the Constitution and law marches on. All the suits, threatened or brought to court dealt with the definition of this word:

(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.

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

The legislature itself has defined "suitable" via multiple cost-studies, come commissioned and others by legislative post-audit.......In all cases, the studies demonstrated that the legislature was woefully under-funding their own definition of "suitable".

Now, they have under-funded their own laws in terms of prior legislation (re - base state aid per pupil); and have repeatedly failed to pay school districts in full or on time for the better part of a year. They claim poverty while handing out billions in corporate tax cuts over the past decade.

They have no leg to stand on whatsoever in this lawsuit. Period.

itwasthedukes 5 years, 2 months ago

There is already too much money in public schools. Districts are being used for economic development and jobs programs.

Bobo Fleming 5 years, 2 months ago

So if a school district, lets say Eudora decides it wants to build a 21st century Tashmahall state of the art football stadium. And lets further say that that same school district has a million dollar shortfall. The question is if the members of the Court decide that suitable means let Eudora District do what the heck it pleases about sports but require the State to kick in a lot more money to finance that million dollar shortfall than what is the remedy?

Steve Clark 5 years, 2 months ago

Again, different budgets, different funding authority, CAN NOT MIX THESE TWO, by legislation.

Kash_Encarri 5 years, 2 months ago

I must come over to Eudora and see this Tashmahall you are talking about. Does the stadium have a video board and everything, being state of the art and all? This all sounds very impressive for a small midwestern high school.

In my country, the most impressive building we have is actually an elaborate tomb called the Taj Mahal. It is quite spectacular, but probably fails in comparison to this Tashmahall state of the art football stadium.

Sheryl Wiggins 5 years, 2 months ago

Kash--your comment made 'Tang' come out my nose! I too wondered about this mysterious "tashmahall" stadium we have in Lawrence.

braverthanu 5 years, 2 months ago

Sports and other extra curricular activities are part of the education system. Stop whining about building sporting facilities. I am so sick of people crying about it. Most of the venues are being built with funded or raised money. Sports are a big part of our culture......DEAL WITH IT.

conservative 5 years, 2 months ago

The difference between last time and this time is the percentage of the overall budget that is going to schools. if memory serves from the last article that covered this issue the percent of the budget going to education is still the same or higher than after the last ruling. The difference is that we are in a recession and the state doesn't have the money it did in 2005.

KSManimal 5 years, 2 months ago

And where in the state constitution does it say "the obligation for suitable funding of schools is waived during economic recession"?

The state doesn't have the money because they hand out corporate tax breaks and tax exemptions like candy. Upwards of $10 billion worth over the last decade. They have used the recession as an excuse.

Determined 5 years, 2 months ago

I've worked in public education for over 20 years. Money is not the answer.

Determined 5 years, 2 months ago

Hi Made in China- Actually I don't think that money is the question or the answer. I think the question is: what is the role of education? Also, I reread my comments and I didn't say money was irrelevant, just not the answer. And, in regard to spreading the wealth or giving money away to other schools that did happen in the late 90s (can't remember the exact year) in the state of Kansas. Johnson County now provides the majority of money for our schools in the state of Kansas. Every county voted for the change except Johnson County. This did turn into an interesting article and responses.

jafs 5 years, 2 months ago

Advocates of privatization never have much of an answer for that question.

funkdog1 5 years, 2 months ago

Sure they do. The answer is they don't give a rat's patootie if some people can't afford an education and don't care if the ranks of the poor and uneducated swell. They figure it's some sort of poetic social Darwinism at work.

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Vouchers would be nice. Barring that, at least a tax deduction so the money I pay for my daughter to go to public school can be used the way my family wants it to. But lg40's suggestion was to privatize all the schools. If that was done, there would be some that priced themselves in an affordable bracket.

WilburNether 5 years, 2 months ago

It was sheer idiocy (not to mention unconstitutional) for the Kansas Supreme Court to take it upon itself to specify how much to spend on education. Appropriation of funds is reserved in the Kansas constitution for the elected representatives of the people of Kansas, and the decision of what is "suitable" is up to them, based on their allocation of finite resources among many competing priorities. It is most certainly NOT the province of 7 appointed judges to specify how much to spend on the K-12 industry or, for that matter, anything else.

If truth in advertising were a requirement in naming organizations, "Schools for Fair Funding" would be named "K-12 Industry for Selfishness and Greed." It is high time that the higher education community in Kansas recognize that it is the selfishness and greed of the K-12 industry that results in reduced funding for higher education.

WilburNether 5 years, 2 months ago

Your post is incoherent. What is it that you are attempting to say?

WilburNether 5 years, 2 months ago

You are mistaken. The court ordered the legislature appropriate a specified amount of money, by a certain date. It is most assuredly inaccurate to assert that the court "merely applied the Legislature's own standards and the constitution...," and the court most assuredly did NOT leave it "up to the Legislature to figure out."

It would appear that you know absolutely nothing about what the court really did.

ohjayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Good luck with this. Hopefully it all gets settled much quicker than here in Ohio. Our State Supreme Court originally ruled the way schools were funded unconstitutional in 1997... we're still waiting on an adequate resolution. Look up DeRolph v. State for additional info on our woes.

KS 5 years, 2 months ago

KSManimal - Pretty sure there is nothing in the Constitution that the obligation for funding is waived during a recession, but one thing is for sure. The well is empty. Maybe you have not been reading the news lately. This is an attempt by a bunch of lawyers to continue their careers by suring the State of Kansas in this school suit. As far as I am concerned, it is a bunch of crap. I hope the Legislature has the ba!!'s to stand up to the Court this time. What is the Court going to do? Throw them all in jail? Fine them? Enough is enough, already.

Kontum1972 5 years, 2 months ago

well u can bet your boots these so-called legislators are getting their paychecks and all the perks that go with for office its free money....

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

KSManimal (anonymous) replies…

"The legislature itself has defined "suitable" via multiple cost-studies, come commissioned and others by legislative post-audit.......In all cases, the studies demonstrated that the legislature was woefully under-funding their own definition of "suitable"."

Didn't the court decide in the Montoy case that meeting standards that satisfied NCLB were not sufficient to say a school district was meeting that "suitable" definition, manimal?

Wouldn't your outspoken claims that the standards set by NCLB are unattainable also mean it's impossible to meet that definition of "suitable"?

When are you going to tell the readers who you are, manimal? Afraid your opinion might seem a little biased?

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Kinda' my point. The defense in the Montoy case claimed that is a school district met standards acceptable to NCLB they were by definition providing a "suitable" education. The judge said no, that meeting the NCLB threshold did not prove the education was "suitable".

manimal has been posting a lot of stuff about how unrealistic the NCLB standards are. If the the threshold of a "suitable" education is higher than the NCLB standard, you can't say NCLB is unattainable without saying a "suitable" education is impossible.

irvan moore 5 years, 2 months ago

when times are hard everybody has to tighten their belts. a lot of us taxpayers are putting our third generation of students through school. i am happy to do so but i would like the school board to think twice about how they spend our money and take the taxpayers into account. i understand that if you have children in school you want the best for them (and so do most of us) but it is simply not realistic to use property taxes as an atm for unlimited spending. this is a frivilous lawsuit that will only create more problems for everyone. we have to stop spending money we don't have.

BigPrune 5 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps the problem is there is too much funding going into facilities. Every new public school built within 10 years that I've seen is first rate, top notch, and done with the most expensive of materials. When I went to school, we didn't even have air-conditioning. Pay the teachers (the ones that are good teachers) a decent wage, and pay the bad teachers (the ones that have to tell the students how they contracted venereal diseases as an example, etc) a lower wage to weed them out. Then, please, please, please stop asking for more freaking money from the poor taxpayers.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 2 months ago

Private corporate schools would eat up our tax dollars in a big way and cannot guarantee a better education. Profit becomes the focus.

No accountability

Plus our tax dollars would be spent on: 1. CEO's 2. Shareholders 3. golden parachutes 4. political campaigns 5. Principals@ $250,000 a year 6. Maybe a corporate jet

notajayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

"No accountability"

Patently untrue, merrill (gee, what were the odds).

Private schools are held accountable by the only people that matter, the people that pay tuition, i.e. the students and their families. Unfortunately, the public school system has no such accountability.

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