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Kansas Court Still A Player In School Finance


While Kansas schools are paying close attention to the state budget, they’re also tracking an ongoing court case that could drastically change the education funding picture in the state.

On the same day the new consensus revenue estimate for the next three years was released Monday, a three-judge panel in Shawnee County once again made it clear it was a player in school finance.

In an email sent to lawyers in the case, the panel reminded them that it will hear testimony at a May 7 hearing on all outstanding K-through-12 finance issues. That includes block grant legislation passed this session and how much the Legislature will spend on public schools.

The four districts suing the state, including Kansas City, Kansas, have asked the judges to issue a temporary restraining order against the block grants.

In the email, the panel said that is an option but it left open any remedy if it finds the Legislature isn’t properly funding education.

"While Plaintiffs have filed a motion specifically requesting relief from SB7, including a TRO, be advised, we consider the issues before us as one of compliance and if non-compliance is found, we anticipate a remedy or remedies will be forthcoming, which may or may not impact any recent laws dealing with school finance," the email stated.

The panel also issued an order Monday essentially saying the Shawnee Mission School District cannot intervene in the case. Shawnee Mission has argued it receives less money from the Legislature than the four districts suing the state and its interests aren't represented in front of the court. 

The judges disagreed but said the district could file a friend-of-the-court brief.

Lawyers expect a ruling from the panel before the current fiscal year ends on June 30.

Any ruling from the judges is expected to be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.

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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