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Court to issue school finance ruling Friday

3/6/2014

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

In a long-awaited move, the Kansas Supreme Court said it will issue its ruling Friday in the battle over school finance in Kansas.

The decision will be handed down along with other decisions, as is normally the case.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Lisa Taylor said the decision should be issued at about 9:30 a.m. That's the normal posting time for decisions by both the Kansas Supreme Court and the Kansas Court of Appeals.

In advance of the decision, Gov. Sam Brownback issued a statement in the case, changing the focus to his push to fund all-day kindergarten.

"I have repeatedly stated and believe funding schools is the most important thing state government does," Brownback said. "The centerpiece of my agenda for the 2014 legislative session is to increase Kansas's investment in all-day Kindergarten, which is long overdue and a true path forward."

Legislators have been waiting for the decision to be announced since the 2014 session convened in Topeka in early January.

"The big issue is the school funding lawsuit," Rep. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, said before the legislative session.

The court's decision Friday will essentially determine if the state is meeting its obligation in funding school finance.

A three-judge panel 15 months ago found the state woefully was lacking in the amount it should be appropriating.

The three judges, among them retired District Judge Jack Burr, Goodland, found the per-pupil base aid should be $4,492.

That's $654 more than what the Legislature allocated last year -- a shortfall of $440 million based on the number of students in the state at the time.

It's unclear if that's a number the Kansas Supreme Court will adopt, and Hineman said he's heard of a shortfall in the of anywhere from $440 million to $700 million.