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Kansas School Funding Talks Sought

Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to mediate a dispute between the state and local school districts about the required level of state support for public education. A district court ruled in January that the funding allocated by the Legislature was unconstitutionally low.

A separate motion to stay the decision until a compromise can be reached was also filed. Gov. Sam Brownback said he ordered the filings to avoid a long, contentious dispute between the courts and the Legislature over education spending.

“While the fact remains that the Kansas Legislature should determine a suitable provision for finance of our schools, I believe we owe it to Kansas taxpayers, parents, teachers, and students to examine every available avenue to resolve this dispute to the satisfaction of all involved,” Brownback said.

The lower court ruling said lawmakers should raise the base state aid to $4,492 per student from the $3,838 per student in fiscal 2013. The increase would require an additional $437 million for public schools in fiscal 2014.

John Robb, lead attorney for the coalition of 52 districts that filed the funding lawsuit in 2010, said in January that any stay would be opposed by the districts. But he welcomed Brownback’s offer to negotiate the issue. A constitutional amendment has been proposed that would give the Legislature sole authority on determining the proper funding level.

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