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Kansas Supreme Court To Hear School Funding Arguments

Chris, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a lawsuit over school funding. At issue is whether lawmakers have done enough to reduce funding disparities among school districts. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, a ruling against the state will likely bring lawmakers back to Topeka for more work.

Kansas lawmakers ended their session well short of the 90 days they’re allotted. Democratic state Rep. Jim Ward says normally lawmakers finish their work then return a couple weeks later for a single day to adjourn the session. But this year Ward suspects lawmakers will have more to do than perform ceremonies when they return to the Statehouse.

“I think they know that we’re going to be back. We’re going to be up here discussing how to finance schools equitably,” Ward says.

The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened to close public schools if the problem isn’t corrected.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt says they’ll also make the case that even if justices disagree, the public schools should remain open.

“We think the statue the Legislature passed should take the risk of school closure off the table because at a minimum, the court now has the ability to strike down part of the law, not the entire funding system,” Schmidt says.

The state will be arguing that lawmakers fixed the issue when they redistributed funding. Attorneys for school districts will tell the justices that lawmakers simply shuffled money around and didn’t fix the underlying problems.

Stephen Koranda is the managing editor of the Kansas News Service, based at KCUR. He has nearly 20 years of experience in public media as a reporter and editor.