The public schools enroll 496,000 students: 66% White, 18% Latino, and 7% African American, with 50% living in poverty, and 9% learning English. The State spends $10,011 per pupil. (Most recent NCES data)
“The legislature shall provide for intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement by establishing and maintaining public schools, educational institutions and related activities which may be organized and changed in such manner as may be provided by law.” Kan. Const. art. 6, § 1.
“The legislature shall make suitable provision for finance of the educational interests of the state.” Kan. Const. art. 6, § 6.
In 1990, plaintiffs challenged the State school funding system in Mock v. State. In response and before a trial, the State adopted a new, more equitable funding system. In 1994, in the follow-up case, Unified School District No. 229 v. State, the Kansas Supreme Court found the new funding system constitutional.
Subsequent “back sliding” changes to the State’s school funding statutes led to Montoy v. State, and in 2005, the Kansas Supreme Court declared the funding statutes unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the constitution requires the funding system to be both equitable and adequate. The Legislature revised the funding statutes and began to phase in the Montoy remedy.
A few years later, however, a major tax cut for the wealthiest Kansans and major school funding cuts led to Gannon v. State. In 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed a three-judge panel’s finding in Gannon that the education funding system failed the constitution’s equitable funding requirement. The Legislature changed the two relevant aid formulas to make them equitable.
The same 2014 Kansas Supreme Court decision remanded Gannon to the panel to determine whether the funding system met the adequate funding requirement, based on, “whether the public education financing system…is reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed the standards set out in Rose v. Council for Better Education.”
Later in 2014, the panel found the funding formula inadequate because it failed to provide students with the opportunity to meet the State’s educational standards, which include the Rose standards. The State appealed, and the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to rule in early 2017.