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.