Archive for Sunday, May 27, 2012

School finance case nears court date

May 27, 2012


TOPEKA — As schools across Kansas head into summer recess, attorneys representing 54 school districts will be heading to Shawnee County courtroom to challenge the way the state funds public education.

It is the second time this decade that the Kansas school finance formula has been under judicial scrutiny. The last dispute resulted in legislators increasing school spending by nearly $1 billion.

But declining state revenues caused by the Great Recession starting in 2008 prompted the state to roll back much of that new spending, leading school districts and parents to file a new lawsuit compelling the state to restore funding. The trial begins June 4 and is expected to last most of the month. A decision is almost certain to be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Attorneys John Robb and Alan Rupe have been involved with litigation challenging the Kansas school finance since the 1990s. Robb said they thought when the Kansas Supreme Court released the case in 2006 that it was over for litigation “other than monitoring.” The current case was filed in 2010, when funding required by the court began to slide.

“It’s just surreal. It’s been clients calling and saying the state is reneging on the deal,” Robb said.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt, whose office has hired a Wichita law firm to represent the state in the case, said that while education spending has been reduced since 2006, the state hasn’t seen the dramatic erosion in student achievement that many predicted would occur. He said the evidence suggests “that the correlation between spending and outcomes is not as tight as the Legislature was led to believe.”

Lawmakers kept school funding at or above 2006 levels. For the 2012-13 school year, they put an additional $40 million into K-12 spending, or about $59 more per student. But Robb pointed out that lawmakers are cutting income taxes and the state is projected to have more than $500 million in reserves. He said lawmakers should have put even more money in education.

“Now their true colors are showing,” he said. “The economy is improving. They are going to have good ending balances but they are all having selective amnesia at the peril of the Kansas education system.”


Maddy Griffin 5 years, 6 months ago

Nothing is more important than a good education. It is the only way out of poverty. Maybe that's why the conservatives always cut funding there first.Stupid is a lot easier to control.

Kate Rogge 5 years, 6 months ago

And then, tange, we get Brownback and the ALEC legislators owned by the Koch brothers.

chootspa 5 years, 6 months ago

Honestly, I think they're just too blind to see their own biases and don't see how the deck is stacked in their favor. Plenty of these people honestly believe anarchocapitalism would be an equalizing force.

jafs 5 years, 6 months ago

Libertarians seem to believe that they would do better without the government in many ways.

Whether or not that's true is uncertain, of course.

Mike1949 5 years, 6 months ago

I know our local schools are having a hard time keeping buses on the road which causes over time, headaches for drivers, and just plain frustration for board members trying to find the money to keep the buses rolling. With the looming tax cuts, I can see school districts telling parents, you're going to have to either take your kids to school or call a taxi! Many may just keep their kids at home which is breaking state laws. (that causes a whole new problem)

tomatogrower 5 years, 6 months ago

And those good little Brownback supporters out in western Kansas don't have taxis to take their kids. I wonder what would happen if they stopped all the sports programs in schools? I'll bet there would be a demand for funding then. Their would be parents up in arms.

question4u 5 years, 6 months ago

Judge: The settlement in your divorce case clearly stipulated that you would pay to support your children, yet you have ignored the court's order. Why would you flaunt the legal system in this way?

Defendant: Well, there hasn't been any "dramatic erosion" in my children's heath, has there? They aren't sick or dead are they? Attorney General Derek Schmidt implies that it's OK to ignore the court's orders and then justify that by saying, "See, nothing bad happened!" If the state of Kansas can ignore the courts why shouldn't I?

Judge: Well, if you care as little about your kids as the state of Kansas does, then there's nothing I can say to make you see the light. If I were you, though, I wouldn't rely on your kids' help when you're too old to take care of yourself. They don't owe you a thing, and you've made sure that they know it. They'll leave you and the dust of Kansas behind and will raise your grandchildren as far away from you as they can get.

JackMcKee 5 years, 6 months ago

Why is Derek Scmidt the AG? The man can't lawyer his way out of a paper bag.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 6 months ago

What's on the Brownback Agenda?

Privatization is another word repub RINO's use out of context in an effort to present the illusion that public schools would act like a private business = without our tax dollars.

What private industry sees in privatization of public schools is a huge margin of profit and guaranteed profit. Floods in the trillions of tax dollars going to the bank accounts of private industry is a no brainer for private industry.

Who performs fraud day and day out? Private industry.

Privatization does not represent a better education or efficient use of tax dollars. As I see it privatization of public schools represent:

  1. Over paid CEO's and staff
  2. Golden Parachutes
  3. Shareholders
  4. special interest campaign contributions
  5. potential fraud
  6. Over paid BOD's

In essence reckless use of tax dollars.

Recently we learned that privately run, more expensive charter schools failed to outperform public schools despite their being...... private.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 6 months ago

A search on "reckless use of tax dollars" + merrill only yields 41 hits. I'd have bet on a much higher number.

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