Brownback signs school funding bill into law; plaintiff districts’ attorney predicts it won’t pass court muster

Jay Senter - June 16, 2017 8:40 am
Education advocates are waiting to see how the Supreme Court will respond to the school funding plan the governor signed Thursday.
Education advocates are waiting to see how the Supreme Court will respond to the school funding plan the governor signed Thursday.

Gov. Sam Brownback, who championed the passage of the block grant bill in 2015 saying that it represented an opportunity to call a “a timeout in the school finance wars,” on Thursday approved a bill instating a school funding formula much like the one the block grant bill replaced.

Though he signed the bill, which will be reviewed by the state Supreme Court for constitutionality, Brownback criticized the legislature for not doing more.

“The legislature missed an opportunity to substantially improve the K-12 funding system,” he said in a statement. “They did, however, direct more dollars into the classroom by limiting bond and interest aid, encouraging responsible financial stewardship at the local level. Additionally, they included a sunset on the school funding system, allowing for a regular and robust discussion about the needs of Kansas students.”

The attorney representing the plaintiff school districts in the Gannon case, however, suggested Thursday that it was highly likely that the legislature would be called back for a special session to readdress the issue. The formula approved by the legislature injects $293 million into K-12 education over the next two years. A number of public education advocates have suggested that it would take at least $500 million to meet the court’s adequacy requirements. In a statement Thursday, Rupe said he believed the court would ask the legislature to prove it had met their orders:

Sen. Pat Pettey, a Democrat whose district includes a small portion of the Shawnee Mission School District footprint, echoed those sentiments:

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