State of Kansas gets schooled

Dec. 6, 2010 at 7:04 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Kansas school districts are suing the state alleging it is abrogating its constitutional responsibility to fund public education.

Although these suits are not rare and have often ended up before the state Supreme Court, the issue has popped up again after being settled in 2006 when the court approved the Legislature's decision to hand down an additional $755 million to the schools, reported Monday.

New state budget cuts last year slashing $303 million to education sent Kansas school districts back to the courts with a flurry of new lawsuits.

Other states facing funding crises where school officials are taking the same recourse are Indiana, New Jersey and California with their counterparts in New Mexico and Texas also pondering legal action, said.

Schools have relied on state tax revenues but with a sluggish economy many states have cut back on funding. Schools have squeaked by on cash reserves, federal aid and stimulus money, which has now run out.

"Constitutional rights don't get put on hold because there's a recession or financial constraints," says Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Education Equity and a leader in New York's school funding lawsuit.

"Some of them may say the only recourse they have is to challenge the funding mechanism," says Robert Toutkoushian, a professor of higher education at the University of Georgia.

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