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School districts file cross-appeal with Kansas Supreme Court over funding

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at 7:36 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at 7:40 p.m.

The coalition of school districts that sued the state over education funding filed a cross-appeal Wednesday in the case, which is now pending with the Kansas Supreme Court.

The appeal asks the court to find the current level of education funding unconstitutional on three separate grounds, rather than just one that a three-judge panel ruled on last month.

“We won the case but … we didn’t win every possible point in the case that we could have won," said John Robb, lead attorney for Schools For Fair Funding, a coalition of 52 Kansas districts including Wichita.

Judges found that the state’s current level of funding violates the state’s constitutional obligation to provide students a “suitable" education. Because of that finding, they did not rule on two other counts the school districts alleged: that the funding also violates students’ right to equal protection and due process.

“The judges didn’t get there (with their ruling) because they didn’t have to," Robb said.

“We would like them to find the funding unconstitutional on those other two grounds as well, especially with what the Legislature is trying to do with changing the constitution."

The cross-appeal also argues that school districts are entitled to capital outlay equalization money for previous years. The three-judge panel ruled that the districts’ “claims had merit, but those were closed budget years, and you can’t go back to past budget years," Robb said.

“If the districts are entitled to (that money), they should get it," he said.

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