May 11, 2016
Earlier this week the Kansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the latest school finance case. This is in response to the new school finance plan the governor signed into law earlier this year that applied the capital outlay formula to the local option budget. For USD 460, this plan would mean a small increase in our capital outlay state aid, a significant reduction in LOB, and the difference would be made up in "hold harmless" funds that would go into our general fund. The Supreme Court's task is to determine if this new funding formula meets the constitutional requirement for equitable funding for Kansas school districts.
When the long-standing school funding formula was replaced by the block grant in 2015, the courts ruled that the block grant violated the equitable funding mandate of the Kansas Constitution. The Kansas Supreme Court ultimately gave the legislature a mandate to create a funding mechanism that would pass the equity standard and in their ruling stated that failure to do so would result in the closure of Kansas schools.
In recent days and weeks there have been many media reports on what school closure actually means. One of the difficult parts of this entire situation is that there are still so many unknowns. It is unknown if schools will actually close on July 1. It is also unknown as to what a school shutdown actually looks like.
USD 460 has made no projection on what a shutdown means because we simply do not know.
There is a high likelihood that if the Court rules the school finance formula unconstitutional based on equity, then the Court will also state clearly what a school shutdown looks like if they follow-through on that ultimatum. In addition, we have heard from our local representatives that the likely move from the legislature would be to reconvene to address the ruling of the Court if necessary.
In many ways we are in uncharted waters, at least in recent times. The idea of school districts in Kansas shutting down, even temporarily, seems pretty scary, but sadly it is a reality that has been put on the table due to the challenging times our state is currently facing.
We hope that the Supreme Court is able to rule as quickly as possible as the sooner we know what is going to happen, the quicker we can prepare for the next school year. As we learn more, we will certainly pass that information on to our staff and community. Please do not hesitate to contact our office anytime you have questions or need any additional information on state or district matters. Our office number is 620-327-4931
and my email address is email@example.com.