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Continued: Kansas Supreme Court says state is inadequately funding public schools, violating constitution

  • Article by: JOHN HANNA , Associated Press
  • Last update: March 7, 2014 - 11:13 PM

A state Department of Education official estimated the cost of meeting the court's directives on aid to poor districts at $129 million annually, in addition to the more than $3 billion the state has budgeted for the 2014-2015 school year. Schmidt and top legislators said the decision allows them to consider alternatives instead of adding all of the funds to soon-to-be-debated budget legislation.

Kansas cut its annual base aid to schools by $386 million over several years as tax revenues declined during the Great Recession, although it did cover some rising costs, such as teacher pensions. After the base-aid cuts, school districts trimmed their staffs, cut after-school programs and raised fees for parents. Classrooms also became more crowded.

State attorneys had said legislators did the best they could to maintain education spending among the reduced available revenues during the recession, pointing to efforts to raise the state sales tax rate in 2010 and the reliance on federal stimulus funding to keep spending stable.

A three-judge panel sided with the lawsuit's plaintiffs in January 2013. The state appealed, and the Supreme Court heard arguments in October.

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