From The Witchita Eagle:
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Legislature has inequitably funded schools and gave lawmakers until June 30 to work out a plan that meets constitutional requirements.
The justices signaled that if the Legislature fails to craft a solution by the end of the fiscal year, it could lead to a court-ordered shutdown of schools.
“The legislature’s chosen path during the 2016 session will ultimately determine whether Kansas students will be treated fairly and the schoolhouse doors will be open to them in August for the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year,” the ruling said.
John Robb, an attorney for the school district, said the court did not overstep its authority.
“The court is showing tremendous deference to the legislature in allowing the legislature to … design an equitable system,” he said. “It’s not imposing its own system. They’re not naming numbers. They are just saying, ‘You must do it.’”Some in the Kansas Legislature?
“That’s what we call fantasy,” said Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita. “It comes in the fiction section of the library. We live in the non-fiction section and we have to address the fundamental problems of Kansas.”From the court:
Ward predicted that it will take significant work and time for lawmakers to address the court’s order because of the state’s tenuous financial state.
“Do you create a constitutional crisis and defy the court or do you sit down and begin the hard work of repairing Kansas’ financial situation so that we can address the court ruling?” Ward said.
The school finance case was split into two questions: Is the overall funding adequate, and is school funding being equitably distributed to districts?
Thursday’s decision dealt only with the equity portion of the case. Oral arguments in the adequacy portion were scheduled for this spring, but Thursday’s ruling stayed that portion until lawmakers address equity, Robb said.I say this often but it certainly seems appropriate here:
Yoo hoo, Washington State Legislature, tick tock.