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State gearing up for school funding lawsuit

The Kansas Attorney General's Office has hired the Wichita law firm of Hite, Fanning and Honeyman to help represent the state in a lawsuit over school funding. The state expects a coalition of more than 70 school districts, including Wichita, to file the lawsuit within the next 30 days, and the litigation could take 2½ years or more. State Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, said this week at a meeting of the Special Committee on Education that the state should try to avoid litigation and settle the issue out of court. "We recognize the goal is to restore the cuts that have been made," he said. But Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis told legislators that they would have to increase school funding by $415 million to comply with the level of funding approved by the state in 2008, which was part of a settlement of a previous school funding lawsuit. And GOP gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback has said he would freeze state spending.