February 10, 2016

School funding court case could bankrupt the state

School districts and the state legislature battled funding questions at the Kansas Supreme Court last week.
Whatever the outcome, things aren’t looking good for Joe Taxpayer.
Several school districts, including Gardner-Edgerton, are suing the state for “adequate funding,” for public schools.
They’re requesting an additional $440 million in state funding.
The problems with this lawsuit are numerous. It should never have gone this far.
Attorneys for the school districts say that lawmakers, in response to an earlier lawsuit, promised to fund schools to the tune of $4,492 per student, and then never lived up to that promise.
The state legislature’s attorney argued that ordering the Legislature to increase school funding would undermine our system of government.
He was right, of course. Under Kansas law, the legislature controls the state’s pocketbook. They decide, not the courts, how much to spend and on what.
However, the state constitution also requires that public schools be funded “adequately.”
The question before the court: Who gets to decide what “adequate” means?
There’s a little more to it. The Legislature did research to determine what “adequate” means several years ago. And that research said the number is $4,492 per weighted student.
It’s ridiculous that any research can determine what “adequate” is. It’s a vague term that means something different to each individual, yet here we are.
The Supreme Court may very well determine that the duly-elected members of the Kansas Legislature need to pony up more money. Apparently, the school district attorneys (and possibly the state Supreme Court) believe there’s a money tree growing somewhere near Topeka, and that all legislators need to do is begin the harvest.
Here in reality, we recognize that money has to come from somewhere or some one. Where is it going to come from? It could come in the form of cuts to other state-funded programs. Of course, when the legislature dropped funding for public art a few years ago, a collective howl of injustice rang across the plains. Arts, it appears, are a critical function of the state government. So if even art can’t be cut without serious objection, what can?
The answer is nothing. The well is dry. That means we taxpayers need to pony up to the plate.
If the state legislature simply bent to the lawsuit’s demands, it would bankrupt the state. And if Kansas legislators come to us for the cash, it will bankrupt the citizenry.
Shame on school districts for attempting to rob the public, when the public elected the current crop of legislators.


  1. here is an idea… if the school districts, including ours, want a judge to order the legislature to provide “adequate” and ultimately more funding, then the legislature needs to be given the ability to put limits or expectations on how that money will be spent. Limits need to be put on what percentage of the total base student funding is used for administration so that puppet school boards won’t be giving out exorbitant superintendent salaries and perks and agree to staff administration positions that are not necessary for the size of the school. That way the funding spent on administration would be tied to the enrollment as well as what is spent in the classroom. That way money and power hungry administrators might look to other fields of work in the private sector and we would get the administrators that agree that schools are really all about meeting the educational needs of the kids and not about car allowances and annuities and building up their own back accounts while the getting is good and easy.

  2. Judith Rogers says:

    Alumni (your comments would have more credibility if you took ownership of them), what is wrong with our school district also is wrong with our city government resulting in citizens paying the highest taxes (and probably utilities) in the county and the state. Citizens have themselves to blame for these expensive, wrong results because they are not doing their jobs – they have placed into office individuals who work for the superintendent and/or the city manager and the thieves rather than the citizens and the citizens are providing no oversight/accountability whatsoever – a perfect climate for slimy, cronyism government. When citizens allow and enable and support cronyism government, there will be consequences – very bad consequences. Been going on for years here in Gardner and continues because the citizens are the proximate cause of it. And the problems don’t stop here in Gardner – the same lousy government is here in Johnson County and especially with your state government including your legislators. It continues to get worse and worse and worse. Moral corruption is thriving in your government halls of shame in case you haven’t noticed.

    The robber barons are in high heaven on citizen dollars and it is just the way they like it. Citizens have allowed that to happen because many of them, too, have lost their moral compass. Ask your city financial officer, Ms. Gourley, to provide you with a list of all of the city’s debt, what the debt was for and when the debt will be retired and what funds are used to pay for the debt. You have nearly a MILLION DOLLARS going into Walmart’s pocket every year instead of your city coffers as a result of the actions of your politicians and the citizens not providing an outcry when it was needed. Ask yourselves if the city’s priorities are out of whack – what are citizens getting from all of this debt and was it really needed by the CITIZENS or was the debt for the thieves who the politicians are constantly running after to come to our community but the theives don’t want to pay any taxes and want one type of handout after another which certainly helps their bank account but certainly drains yours. Look at those businesses in New Century – they get their water from the city of Gardner at half the cost of what you are paying. Citizens are paying higher sewer rates in order to help pay for the sewer plant Edgerton and the thieves needed and what will you get out of it – trucks, trains, pollution, illness, injury, disablement, increased crime and costs that will never end while the thieves don’t want to pay any taxes if they can help it or they get their fraudulent farm appraisals which almost totally eliminates their tax responsibility and, of course, Brownback certainly helps them by eliminating their state income tax responsibility. These takers of all kinds are never going to help out the average citizen – they will just want more and more and more as long as they can get it out of the slimy politicians/bureaucrats that citizens put into office.

    Recognize the proximate cause of your problems and perhaps make some needed changes in your words, actions, inaction and voting record. Until the citizens do that, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

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