Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today asked the Kansas Supreme Court to withdraw its warning that it might order a shutoff of all funding for schools if a legislative remedy is not reached during the upcoming special session and instead “make plain that the Court will ensure Kansas schools stay open and operating throughout the State.”
“To prevent harm to Kansas schoolchildren, their families, and the many Kansans who otherwise rely on having schools open and operating, the State respectfully requests this Court withdraw its twice-repeated warning that it may enter an order that would result in the closing of Kansas public schools,” Schmidt wrote in a motion filed today with the Court.
The difference between the amount of equalization aid the Court has indicated is necessary and the amount the Legislature already has provided is estimated at about $38 million. Schmidt noted this amount is less than 1 percent of the entire $6 billion spent on public schools each year.
“The State respectfully suggests that attempting to enforce the Kansas Constitution’s command for ‘suitable’ provision for financing public education by denying schools access to the more than 99 percent of their funding not in dispute in this phase of this case would be a grossly disproportionate remedy,” Schmidt wrote, noting that closing schools would violate the Kansas Constitution as well as federal and state law.
The governor has called the Legislature into special session to address the Court’s order that local property tax funding must be further “equalized” to reduce differences between wealthier districts and poorer districts. The special session is scheduled to begin June 23, seven days before the Court has indicated it may declare the entire school funding system invalid if the equalization problem is not solved.
A copy of the attorney general’s motion is available at http://1.usa.gov/1Ub1x1Z.