Kansas Supreme Court: Arguments made; decision awaits

The state and plaintiff school districts Thursday argued before the Kansas Supreme Court over whether the state’s recent $90 million increase for K-12 funding was enough to settle the long running Gannon lawsuit.

Toby Crouse, an attorney representing the state, said the increase complied with the inflation adjustment ordered last year by the court. Coupled with an earlier approved $522 million phase-in of increased funding, Crouse said the state was in substantial compliance with court decisions in the decade-long litigation and the case should be dismissed.

Alan Rupe, the attorney representing school districts that sued the state, said the $90 million was $270 million short. He urged the court to thank the Legislature for one year of inflation funding, give them another year to approve the rest and for the court to maintain jurisdiction in the case.

After an hour and ten minutes of arguments, which featured numerous questions from justices, Chief Justice Lawton Nuss said the court would take the matter under advisement. The court has earlier said it would issue a ruling no later than June 30.

At 12:30 p.m. today, KASB Live will offer an analysis of the court proceedings from KASB’s Donna Whiteman, attorney and assistant executive director legal services, and Mark Tallman, associate executive director advocacy and communications. Here is the link to join the discussion.

Most of the arguments centered on what calculations to use to provide either the $90 million increase offered by the state or the $360 million wanted by the plaintiffs.

At one point Justice Dan Biles told Crouse, “I don’t have a lot of sympathy for dismissing this lawsuit.” Biles noted the state reneged on funding in the previous Montoy school finance case and then approved block grants that were later declared unconstitutional.

Justice Eric Rosen asked Rupe will school finance litigation ever end. Rupe said he thought the case was close to being resolved but the state needed to comply with the Kansas Constitution to provide adequate funding.

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