Mediation of the school finance lawsuit in the Kansas Supreme Court is a “win-win” for Kansas City, Kan., Public School students, an attorney involved with school finance said.
Some students, parents and some districts, including the Kansas City, Kan., district, are suing the state, asking the courts to order the state to adequately fund schools, which they say is required by the state constitution. A Shawnee District Court three-judge panel ruled in favor of the students, and the case was appealed by the state. The group, known as Schools for Fair Funding, includes some Kansas City, Kan., students. The Shawnee District Court ruling on Jan. 11 ordered that funding be restored to $4,492 base aid per pupil, as opposed to the current $3,838.
The Kansas Supreme Court ordered mediation in the case on March 1, after the governor asked the attorney general to request mediation. The court also stayed or delayed enforcement of the district court’s order until the Supreme Court orders it.
“The court-ordered mediation is a win-win for the KCK kids,” stated attorney Alan Rupe on Saturday. ”If the mediation is successful, a plan will issue that provides a constitutionally adequate education for all Kansas and KCK public school children. If the mediation is unsuccessful—because the Supreme Court denied the state’s request to put the case on hold pending mediation—the case will still proceed quickly through the appeal process and the court will have the opportunity to enforce the Kansas Constitution and tell the legislature to live up to their obligation to adequately fund schools.”
An effort is under way in the Kansas Legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot which, if passed, would prevent the courts from ordering the state to pay for the education of students. The amendment passed the Senate Feb. 20. In order to amend the constitution, it would have to pass both houses, then go to the voters for approval.