Education and the courts
On Thursday, we received an update from Attorney General Derek Schmidt on the pending school finance litigation. As I have discussed in past newsletters, the state has been involved with school litigation in some fashion for over 20 years, largely due to debates over definitions and what's required under the complicated school finance formula.
As you'll recall, the Legislature complied with the Supreme Court ruling last session by adding $126.2 million in equalization funding. This week, the "Schools for Fair Funding," an organization involved in the Gannon v. State lawsuit, has filed a new motion to reopen the Kansas Supreme Court decision on the equity of education funding. Stay tuned on that motion.
This past December, a panel of three judges ruled that Kansas' school funding was inadequate under the state's constitution. The state is now in the process of appealing this ruling. The decision by the panel appears to be out of compliance with the Kansas Supreme Court's directives given to the panel.
Education and the numbers
The Kansas Department of Education recently released new numbers showing that K-12 Education funding has increased by $312.2 million in the last three years. The governor's budget proposal contains a sunset of the school finance formula effective on July 1, 2015 and requested the Legislature reform the formula. Until the reform takes place, the Legislature would use block grant funding for school districts. The Legislature is still waiting for introduction of a bill for the block grant that would contain other details of this proposal.
Below are graphs on the total state expenditures on education and the amount spent on each Kansas student. As you can see, spending is at an all-time high, both in total expenditures as well as in the amount spent per-pupil, which is now near $13,000 when all revenues are figured.
Any notion that we are not spending an increasing amount of money on education simply goes against the facts. Whether the right school districts are getting the right amount of funding is another matter.