What do George Orwell’s Animal Farm and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on campaign contributions in Citizens United have in common? They both are cited in a legal brief suggesting the Shawnee Mission School District families are victims of inequality and have had their First Amendment rights restricted.
The Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley School Districts filed their amicus brief this week in the parents’ lawsuit challenging the cap on local school funding. The brief contends that “While parents and taxpayers in the school districts are funding suitable education elsewhere, SMSD and BVSD are thus unable to provide equal opportunities for their children.” The brief points to increasing class sizes in the two districts, which has been a consistent parent complaint, as a result of the inequity.
Here are some of the points made in the brief:
- The two districts account for 15 percent of the total assessed property value in Kansas.
- The districts account for 11 percent of the state’s students.
- The districts are underfunded on a per-pupil basis compared to other Kansas schools.
- The Kansas funding formula discriminates against the districts because of local option budget limits.
- It is clear citizens in the districts would support higher taxes for education.
- The Gannon case does not cure the inequality for districts like SMSD and BVSD whose “property, income and sales tax contribution is redistributed in Topeka.”
- Raising the LOB cap “will not approach what is needed by the districts.
- SMSD received less in state aid in 2012-2013 than all but 14 districts in the state while other large districts received twice as much per pupil.
- KCK schools had more money available to educate fewer students than Blue Valley.
- The LOB cap would have to be raised to 55.44 percent in SMSD (set at 33 percent in the recent finance bill) to equalize to the KCK level.
- The districts have cut spending, closed schools (SMSD), laid off teachers and are increasing class sizes.
- Both the First and 14th Amendment rights have been violated.
- When citizens are denied the right to fund … “a particular amount of education” .. it violates free speech rights.
- The Kansas government seeks to control how much information students may get from their public schools and refuses to allow the districts to expand the flow of information.
The full brief appears below.