Kansas's public school funding is unconstitutionally disparate between districts, according to a Friday ruling from the state Supreme Court that will require the state to increase public school funding. Although the court didn't tell the state exactly how much more it had to spend to meet the basic education needs of every student in the state, a Department of Education official estimated to the AP that Kansas needs to add at least $129 million in funding to poorer districts to its statewide $3 billion school budget for next year. If the state legislature doesn't fix the gap by July 1st, a lower court will intervene.
The ruling pertains to cuts in school funding from 2010 to 2012. According to the unanimous decision, those cuts widened the gap in the state between educational opportunities in rich and in poor districts. "School districts must have reasonably equal access to substantially similar educational opportunity through similar tax effort,” the court wrote in its decision. They concluded that as of now, Kansas does not provide this to all of its students, writing that the state has engaged in "an obvious and continuing pattern of disregard of constitutional funding." The court left a decision on whether the state adequately funds education on a broader level to a lower court to reconsider. Originally, the lower court found that the state must increase funding by $400 million.