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Court Still Active In Kansas School Funding Debate

Stephen Koranda
Kansas Public Radio

On the same day the Kansas House passed legislation that would drastically change the way schools are funded in the state, a three judge district court panel in Shawnee County issued a ruling which could complicate the issue.

By the narrowest of margins, the house passed a block grant funding bill backed by Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislative leaders.

Lawyers involved in the school funding case say the order late Friday afternoon is a shot across the Legislature’s bow.

In December the panel ordered lawmakers to add $130 million to public school funding.
To date, less than half of that has been paid out to districts.

The order warns legislators that the court is ready to act to make sure the additional money makes its way to districts.

Attorneys in the case also say the court reasserted that even if the block grant bill becomes law, the current school funding case would continue. 

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, in a statement, called the order unexpected and unusual and says it will delay a final resolution.

"The path to resolution is now less clear than ever before. We are studying the order carefully to determine the appropriate next steps."

There are several outstanding issues in this case and recently the state Supreme Court ordered the three judge panel to hear testimony and rule on those issues so the whole case could be appealed at once.

The panel set that hearing for May 7.

The Shawnee Mission School District asked to intervene in this case. The court order allows Shawnee Mission to intervene, but in a limited way.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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