State Board wants to tell Kansas Supreme Court to approve funding portion of SB 16

The State Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously voted to seek to file a friend of the court legal brief supporting the school funding portion of SB 16 that is before the Kansas Supreme Court.

“This is our plan,” said State Board member Jim Porter, a Republican from Fredonia. “Both the House and Senate and governor have adopted our plan and that is historic,” he said.

Ann Mah, a Democratic board member from Topeka, said the funding portion of SB 16 has met the Kansas Supreme Court’s requirements and the board would like to see the litigation ended.

The board voted 10-0 to seek to file an amicus brief with the court supporting the school finance part of SB 16, but not the various policy provisions in the bill that are unrelated to funding.

SB 16 would provide approximately $90 million in additional funding next year and sustain that increase for four years to address the court’s ruling that an earlier funding plan include an inflation factor. The plaintiff school districts say the increase represents only $90 million and is $270 million short of what the court has said was needed.

The state and plaintiffs filed legal briefs on Monday. On Tuesday, during the State Board’s monthly meeting, board members went into executive session for about 20 minutes and then emerged to discuss the case and vote on filing an amicus brief.

Board member Jim McNiece, a Republican from Wichita, said the board has been a part of the Gannon lawsuit for years and needed to make a statement.

The funding plan eventually adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Laura Kelly was based on a recommendation that originally came from the board. Kelly has also asked the court if she could file an amicus brief in support of SB 16.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for May 9 and a decision is expected before June 30.

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