The Kansas State Supreme Court is warning lawmakers to fix the flawed school finance plan or risk a school shutdown.
The Court issue an opinion Thursday stating the state “failed to carry its burden” in making sure all Kansas school districts are treated equitably under the school finance plan.
The ruling says some property-rich school system are treated differently than school districts where property values are not as high.
The Court says result is the school funding plan is $54 million dollars short.
“The courts have said the state has not adequately or in this case, equitably. So, yes, we’re not surprised. It’s clearly what is right for us, and for all the students in the state of Kansas,” said David Smith of the Kansas City, Kansas School District.
The KCK district was one of four school systems who filed the lawsuit against the state.
The Supreme Court gave Kansas lawmakers until July 1 to fix the school finance program.
July 1 is when the new fiscal year starts for Kansas school districts.
The court opinion claims with a corrected school financing program the state would not have a legal means to pay for public schools.
The opinion bluntly warned it is up to the state legislature to address the issue–to the court’s satisfaction–or risk a school shutdown.
The opinion says it is up to lawmakers “whether Kansas students will be treated fairly and the school house doors will open to them in August”.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said in a statement he will review the opinion closely.
Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick was angry. He accused the Court of trying to hold Kansas taxpayers and Kansas students “hostage”.
Merrick also thinks it was odd the Court handed it’s ruling down just hours before lawmakers passed a new budget. One that does not contain the extra $54 million the courts say schools need.