Not 12 hours after Gov. Sam Brownback signed legislation that would fund public schools in Kansas with block grants, the law has been challenged in court.
The motion was filed in Shawnee County District Court by several schools districts, including Kansas City, Kan., which have sued the state claiming it is under funding K-12 public education.
The motion alleges the block grant law violates the Kansas Constitution because it freezes funding for the next two years. A three-judge panel has ruled that the state failed to provide enough money to adequately educate students.
Republican leaders and Brownback say the state is putting millions more into education. However, almost all of the additional funds go into the teachers' retirement system.
The motion alleges the block grants are "a conscious decision by the State of Kansas to sacrifice the education of Kansas schoolchildren for the foreseeable future." It also says the bill is an attempt to "evade judicial review" and that all state school districts "will suffer irreparable harm."
The block grants will fund schools for the next two years at current levels. Because of the state's looming budget deficit for the fiscal year that ends in June, districts don't know exactly how much that will be.
What will replace block grants in two years remains unknown. This week the Senate Education Committee heard testimony on a school funding plan that combines both student population and student special needs with financial rewards for districts with good student outcomes.
That plan, if passed, would roll out next year to the state's six designated Innovative Districts. Blue Valley and KCK are among them.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the state will defend the block grant law.
"We will continue to defend the school finance law as written, and now rewritten, by the people of Kansas, through their elected representatives. We will make our defense in the courts," Schmidt said in a statement.