Kansas’ school funding ruled unconstitutional

Lauri Hoedl, Reporter

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 11 that Kansas’ school funding is unconstitutional and set a deadline of June 30 for the state to construct an adequate funding plan or else public schools will not open next year.

The legislature has sent in a new plan that does not seem to positively impact school districts by increasing aid, rather redistribute money.

Currently, the state is funding schools with block grants, which allows the funding to districts to be unequal.

The Kansas City Star said the block grant system “had shorted poor school districts by $54 million.”

The Kansas Supreme Court realized the issue at hand and decided change was necessary. By setting a deadline, they are hopeful the state will evaluate their funding plan and take initiative in changing it.

Susan Wagle, Kansas Senate president, has referred to the Court’s decision as a “game” and a “bullying tactic.”

By not taking the Kansas Supreme Court seriously, Wagle and other politicians are showing their ignorance of the inequality and creating a better future for all children, not just the children in the richer districts.

It is very unlikely that Kansas’s schools will end up closing next year. Gov. Sam Brownback is known for making drastic decisions that affect Kansas negatively, such as block grants, but allowing schools to close would be a career-ending move that would never receive support.

In a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on WIBW, Tom Burroughs, Kansas House Democratic leader, said that Brownback was “jeopardizing our children’s future” and that he is “ready to invest in public education to ensure every child has a chance to succeed.”

Instead of working towards a plan that will positively impact schools in the long run, the legislature has created a plan that seems to do the bare minimum in creating equal funding.

On March 24, the legislature sent a plan to Gov. Brownback that raises property taxes and redistributes money between districts, rather than increasing Kansas’ aid for school budgets.

Brownback said the Legislature will “ensure the continued success of our great Kansas schools.”

The last school-funding plan passed, block grants, blew up in the state’s face. To prevent a reoccurrence of failure, the legislature needs to figure out a plan that will actually benefit schools.

Whether or not the plan they have created would be an improvement if passed or not is a difficult question. Though the plan would not bring more money into schools, it is important that schools open next year, so students do not fall behind. A mediocre plan is not the best option, but as long as it allows schools to open, it is a better option than none.

The proposal will not benefit schools by bringing more money into the schools, but it will establish a more equal system of funding for all districts.