Kansas Legislature boosts school funding, eyes end to legal battle

A nine-year-old constitutional dispute in Kansas over how, and how much, the state spends on its schools may finally be coming to an end. In early April, Gov. Laura Kelly signed SB 16, which provides Kansas public schools with an additional $90 million a year.

In 2018, Kansas legislators approved a plan to gradually increase per-pupil spending from $4,900 to $5,545 over a five-year period — at a cost of $575 million. In a decision last year of the Kansas Supreme Court, however, the justices ruled that the Legislature’s school-funding law remained unconstitutional because it did not account for inflationary changes. The additional $90 million per year covers those costs, The Wichita Eagle reports. In May, the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case, which dates back to 2010 and has centered on plaintiffs’ contention that K-12 school funding is neither adequate nor equitable. In its 2018 decision, the court determined that the Legislature had met its responsibility to equitably distribute funding, but still fell short on “adequacy.”

In the Midwest, for the 2015-16 school year, the state’s portion of total revenues for K-12 education (local and federal revenues being the other sources) ranged from a low of 24.1 percent in Illinois to a high of 66.8 percent in Minnesota.
Stateline Midwest: April 20191.75 MB