Hastening to meet a court-imposed deadline to increase school funding, Kansas lawmakers earlier this month approved a $500 million funding increase, to be phased in over five years, for the state’s public schools. Because of a drafting error in the bill, however, school districts will actually receive $80 million less than the legislature intended for the first year. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to modify the briefing schedule the court had established last year in order to give the legislature time to correct the mistake.
Last October, after ruling for the fifth time since 2014 in Gannon v. State that the state funding formula did not meet constitutional requirements, the Court ordered the state to enact a new state funding system before April 30, 2018. It also established a specific briefing schedule that will allow the Court sufficient time to consider the new legislation and the parties’ positions supporting and opposing it before the end of the current school year. The Attorney General said that the modification he was requesting in the briefing schedule would not delay the dates for oral argument or for issuing a final decision that the Court had established last year.
Plaintiffs in their briefs that are due to be filed on April 30 and May 10 are likely to claim that even if the error is corrected, the state will still not be in compliance since by their calculations, the required adequacy amount is at least $600 million, and the new bill counts as state aid amounts that local districts raise through their local option funding.