Kansas Supreme Court to consider equity, adequacy of school funding separately



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TOPEKA, Kansas — The Kansas Supreme Court said Friday it will hear oral arguments in November on whether the state is distributing school funding fairly in a way that provides equal educational opportunities for all students.

However, it will not be until spring of 2016 when the state's highest court hears arguments on whether Kansas has met its constitutional duty to provide adequate funding for public education.

The high court issued a four-page schedule that sets separate timelines for briefings and arguments over the "equity and adequacy" of school funding in Kansas. The court said that while those issues "do not exist in isolation from each other," they are in different stages of resolution.

Citing a need for an expedited decision on the equity issue, the court set that issue for a Nov. 6 hearing. It also scheduled a string of deadlines for attorneys to file written briefings before the hearings.

A district court ruled in January 2013 that the state created unconstitutional wealth-based disparities among school districts, a finding that the Supreme Court subsequently affirmed.

But the court remanded the case to a three-judge panel in Shawnee County District Court for enforcement. That panel considered actions taken by the state Legislature in 2014 and 2015 and concluded that school funding still failed to provide a suitable education for every child.

Last month the state Supreme Court put on hold the lower court's order for the state to immediately increase aid to public schools by roughly $50 million, but promised to move quickly to decide whether the state is distributing its money fairly.

The three-judge panel invalidated key parts of a school funding law enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature this year and ordered Kansas to provide the extra money using the state's previous school funding formula.

That order remains on hold while the Supreme Court considers the state's appeal.

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