School districts vote to sue state over funding cuts

NEWTON —A coalition of school districts voted today to file a lawsuit against the state over education funding.

The soonest the case would be filed is probably in the late summer, said John Robb, the lead attorney for Schools for Fair Funding.

Seventy-two Kansas school districts, including Wichita, support Schools for Fair Funding's litigation against the state.

School leaders said they would be happy to see a resolution to education funding without filing a lawsuit, but they said it doesn't appear that would happen.

"The reason for this action is for all the kids in Kansas," Wichita board member Lynn Rogers said. "It's very important are kids are served."

The Supreme Court told the group last week that a school finance case dismissed in 2006 can't be reopened to put recent cuts to funding on trial. Instead, the schools would have to file a new suit, which Robb said would automatically add six months to the process.

The coalition in December agreed to a new lawsuit if the bid to reopen the 2006 case failed, but called for a vote first.

The state has pumped nearly $756 million more into K-12 education since 2006 after the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the state wasn't funding schools adequately. Legislators adopted a three-year school funding plan in 2006, but it fell $25 million short of its target last year, when state aid to schools was cut by roughly $300 million.

Wichita and school districts statewide are considering cutting programs and staff as they brace for state aid reductions next school year.