On Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the Kansas Constitution by ordering the state to pay about $129 million dollars to the schools by July 1. The balance of funding requested by schools will be determined after a lower court redefines the meaning of “adequate” education.
Good luck with that. Is adequacy based on assessment test scores? ACT test scores? Graduation rates? Job placement rates?
The bottom line is that an education’s quality can’t be based on dollars and cents. There is no magic formula that will assure every child will receive a diploma and be ready to take on the world.
Friday’s Supreme Court decision is the most recent ruling in a series of lawsuits brought against the state starting in the early 1990s. Schools for Fair Funding (a coalition of 48 school districts including Great Bend’s USD 428) brought the current lawsuit – Gannon vs. State of Kansas – in 2010 following state budget reductions that began in 2009.
The suit sought to restore the cuts that have been made to all schools after the legislature failed to abide by an earlier settlement. The lawsuit also asked to restore funding to constitutionally required levels.
A district court unanimously ruled in favor of the school districts. The decision was appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court.
In terms of the ruling, the court affirmed the right of the students and the school districts to take the issue of school funding to the courts. On the issue of funding schools, the court will require the legislature to fund $25.2 million in capital outlay equalization and $103.9 million in Local Option Budget funding by July 1. Additional funding could be determined after the lower court rules on the definition of “adequacy.”
The court found the lower court did not apply the correct standards as to whether there were adequate resources and whether an adequate education is being provided.
We all can agree our school deserve adequate funding. After all, the are charged with teaching our most valuable resource – our children.
However, despite the recent furor, kids continue to take tests, graduate from high school, move on to college or technical school and enter the work force. Adequate funding or not, the system still seems to work.
Could it be better? Sure. No matter in what field one endeavors, they would always like to see more money with which to work.
But, more money doesn’t always equal better results.
Perhaps it is time to look at the 500-pound gorilla in the room – school consolidation. Or, perhaps there are other creative solutions such as districts sharing superintendents, sharing interactive-television classes or some form of web-based learning.
It’s not always about the cash.
Regardless of what the court rules and regardless of how much money lawmakers wind up awarding to schools, maybe we need to look at other ways to make the educational system work more efficiently.