Politics & Government

Kansas Supreme Court sets May 10 date for school finance case

Kansas Supreme Court (Dec. 14, 2015)
Kansas Supreme Court (Dec. 14, 2015) Associated Press

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments May 10 to decide whether a school funding bill Gov. Sam Brownback signed this week meets a constitutional requirement for equitable funding.

In an order issued Friday, the court said it would follow an expedited schedule “in view of the urgency and impact of this case.”

Lawmakers currently are on a five-week spring break. They are scheduled to return April 27.

The timeline announced by the court – oral arguments May 10, with the state arguing first – could mean a decision will not be issued until after the Kansas Legislature adjourns.

That could mean legislators will have to return to Topeka before the scheduled “sine die” ceremony on June 1, which ends the 2016 session.

If a decision takes longer than that and the new funding plan is rejected, lawmakers could be required to meet in a special session to rework school funding and avoid a court-ordered school shutdown.

A Supreme Court order in February called for lawmakers to give poorer school districts a fair share of funding before July 1 or risk a court-ordered shutdown of schools statewide.

Brownback and other supporters of HB 2655, the funding plan signed this week, say it should satisfy the court’s order and keep schools open. Opponents say the bill increases disparities between districts and should not pass court muster.

In its order released Friday, the court said briefs filed by both sides “should address the remedial action to be ordered, and upon what date it should take effect, if the court were to conclude compliance has not been achieved.”

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback discusses the school finance case. (Bryan Lowry/The Wichita Eagle)

Wichita public schools superintendent John Allison comments on Supreme Court ruling that Kansas school funding is inequitable. (Feb. 11, 2016/Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle.)

Attorney General Derek Schmidt talks with reporters after the Kansas Supreme Court grilled his deputies on school funding. (Nov. 6, 2015)

Alan Rupe, attorney for Schools For Funding, talks with reporters after oral arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court. (Video by Bryan Lowry)

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

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