Accelify Blog

KCK District Joining Coalition to Seek Fair Funding From State (MO)

June 15, 2010

The Kansas City, Kan., school board agreed on Monday to join a coalition of school districts frustrated with the state’s funding practices.

The high-poverty district agreed to recommit to Schools for Fair Funding. Although the organization’s attorneys could not be reached for comment on Monday, they have publicly said that they expected to file a new lawsuit this summer.

The coalition had asked the Supreme Court to reopen the 1999 Montoy lawsuit, arguing that the state unconstitutionally slashed school funding. In February the Kansas Supreme Court declined to reopen the case.

The coalition had found success in 2005, when the Kansas Legislature was forced to boost school funding by $1 billion.

Unless the economy makes a sharp turn, the Kansas Legislature is likely to be again faced with budget cuts when lawmakers return in January. That possibility was part of the reason the Kansas City, Kan., school board agreed to spend $59,000 next year to join the coalition.

“The budget that was enacted by the state legislature stopped the bleeding, but it did nothing to restore the $303 million that has been cut in the past 15 months,” said district spokesman David A. Smith. “And obviously, it did nothing to get us to the level of what it would actually — using figures from the legislature’s own post audit study — cost to fund education in the state of Kansas adequately.”

The district expects to cut $7 million from its 2010-11 budget. The district saw revenue drop by $21.4 million this year.

As resources are drained, Smith said that the mandates from No Child Left Behind only increase the costs of educating children.

“We just want adequate resources to be able to educate all children to high standards,” Smith said. “Schools for Fair Funding is fighting to maintain a system of funding that does not favor high property wealth districts. There are 20,000 kids that are counting on us to fight for them.”

If a lawsuit is successful, it could take years before the case could or would make its way back to the Supreme Court.