Kansas Court Orders State to Spend More on Schools

 

The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s low spending on public education must be increased, according to a report in The Tulsa World.

The ruling is an add-on to an earlier lawsuit filed in 2010 in which the Court ruled that the amount that the state government was spending on public education was unconstitutional. In spite of this ruling,  the governor and the legislature were not concerned since the court did not dictate to the state how much to actually spend overall on state public schools and students.

The high court sent the case back to the district court to decide on what amount of funding would be sufficient.  It did not, however, specify a timeline for this decision.

A state Department of Education official estimated the cost of meeting the court’s directives on aid to poor districts at $129 million annually, in addition to the more than $3 billion the state has budgeted for the 2014-15 school year. Legislators said the decision allows them to consider alternatives instead of adding all of the funds to soon-to-be-debated budget legislation.

Kansas cut its annual base aid to schools by $386 million over several years as tax revenues declined during the recent recession. After the base-aid cuts, school districts trimmed their staffs, cut after-school programs and raised fees for parents.

The state has countered that an increase in funding is not necessarily the answer for improving the quality of education received by Kansas students.  It added that state schools are receiving a large amount of funding at this point through federal assistance and other funding sources, according to Alana Semuels writing for the Los Angeles Times.

Governor Brownback contends that the tax cuts he has passed are meant to stimulate the economy.  In his State of the State address, Brownback said that he was in support of all-day kindergarten for the state.

The governor’s tax cuts have affected the poorer school districts the most.  The court has ordered the Kansas legislature to do what needs to be done especially in regard to aid for poor school districts and also to fund general operations and capital improvements write John Milburn and John Hanna, on Yahoo News.

Both sides on this issue are concerned about the ruling.  The state is worried that tax increases will reduce the number of people who have jobs in the state.  The education community is worried that the state has not been given a strong and clear directive and will drag its feet in the quest for more revenue.