By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Kan (Reuters) – The Kansas Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a bill state lawmakers passed last week resolves inequities in public education and will allow schools to open as scheduled in August.
The court had set a June 30 deadline for lawmakers to address disparities between wealthy and poor school districts created by what the court said was an unconstitutional funding formula. Schools would otherwise be shuttered, the court said.
The Republican-controlled Kansas House and Senate went into a special two-day session on Thursday and Friday of last week to assemble a $38 million funding plan to satisfy the earlier court order. Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed the bill.
“Obviously, plaintiffs are extremely pleased that schools will be opening in the fall and that funding will be distributed in a manner that comports with the Kansas Constitution’s equity requirement,” Alan Rupe, a lawyer representing four school districts that sued over the funding issues, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The dispute over equitable funding came on the heels of recent income tax cuts in Kansas that have reduced resources for education and other services. The state Supreme Court rejected an education funding formula the state enacted in 2015.
Although the court has determined that the $38 million plan is equitable, it is still reviewing whether education funding overall is adequate in the state. The court is expected to hear oral arguments on that issue in the coming months.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, additional reporting by Karen Pierog; Editing by Andrew Hay)