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Kansas School Funding Case Picks Up Speed

The Kansas Supreme Court on Thursday issued an order that may speed up the appeals process in the ongoing court battle over school funding in the state.

In December a three-judge panel of Shawnee County District Court ruled that the state's school funding formula is constitutional but underfunded. 

While the panel did not say how much more money is needed, it suggested it could be as much as $522 million.

There are several outstanding issues. The high court's order consolidates and sends them back to the Shawnee County panel. Once the panel rules, the case will be ripe for consideration by the Supreme Court.

The justices also ordered the panel to ensure that the Legislature follows a ruling last year requiring lawmakers to add $130 million to the education funding formula.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Alan Rupe, says so far the Legislature has paid out about $25 million and delayed the rest until the last week of June, just before the current fiscal year ends. 

Rupe says he'll ask the panel at the next hearing to order lawmakers to "encumber the money" to make sure the districts are paid the additional court-ordered money before the end of the fiscal year.

A date has not been set for that hearing.

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