Key Dates In Kansas School Finance History New Hampshire Can Learn From

(See if you notice any chance for voters to weigh in on education funding.)


1972 : Caldwell v. State of Kansas, No. 50616 (Johnson County District Court).

A district court found the Kansas public education funding system unconstitutional.


1973 School District Equalization Act established in response to Caldwell.


1976 In Knowles v. State Board of Education, the district court struck down the 1973 School District Equalization Act as unconstitutional.


Sept. 10, 1990: Officials with 31 school districts file a lawsuit in district court challenging the legality of the state's school finance formula.


Oct. 14, 1991: A district court issues a pretrial opinion, in Mock v. State, finding that the state's school finance formula is unconstitutional. In its pre-trial opinion the court stated that: “the duty owed by the Legislature to each child to furnish him or her with educational opportunity equal to that of every other child”. This Equity Suit was the most common type of eduction funding lawsuit in the 90's before Adequacy Suits became popular.


May 5, 1992: Legislators approve a new school finance formula, providing money on a per-pupil basis.


Dec. 2, 1994: The Kansas Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the new school finance formula.


May 21, 1999: Administrators and parents file state and federal equity lawsuits, claiming the latest finance formula is unconstitutional and violates the equal protection rights of minority and poor students.


Nov. 21, 2001: District court dismisses the state lawsuit.


2002: Robinson v. Kansas, 295 F.3d 1183 (10th Cir.) Earnestine Robinson, on behalf of her minor children, filed suit along with other plaintiffs against the State of Kansas, its governor, and two state education officials challenging the state's school financing scheme. Plaintiffs claimed that the Kansas State school financing results in less funding per pupil, in schools where there are more minority students.


Jan. 24, 2003: The Kansas Supreme Court reverses district court decision to dismiss the state case, ordering a new district court trial. Montoy v. State, 275 Kan. 145, 62 P.3d 228 (Kan. 2003) (“Montoy I”).


Sept. 22-Oct. 1, and Nov. 25, 2003: District court testimony and closing arguments in the school finance lawsuit.


Dec. 2, 2003: District court issues a preliminary order saying the school finance formula is unconstitutional, and orders the Legislature and executive branch to fix the flaws. District court gives legislators until July 1 to fix the formula.


Jan. 2004: Gov. Kathleen Sebelius outlines a three-year plan to increase school funding by $304 million annually through higher sales, income and property taxes.


Feb. 2004: Sebelius signs a bill allowing an expedited appeal of any preliminary or final district court order that strikes down a law because it violates the education article of the Kansas Constitution.


March 26, 2004: State attorneys appeal with the Kansas Supreme Court.


May 8, 2004: Legislature adjourns having rejected more than two dozen proposals to increase funding for education, ranging from tax increases to use of transportation and state reserve accounts. Schools are to receive about $2.7 billion in state aid for 2004-2005 school year.


May 11, 2004: District court issues another order, effectively closing schools after July 1. Schools are to remain closed until the Legislature fixes flaws in the school finance formula.


May 19, 2004: Kansas Supreme Court issues a stay of Bullock's order. Schools remain open for 2004-2005 school year.


Aug. 30, 2004: Arguments before the Supreme Court in the appeal filed by the state and the State Board of Education.


Jan. 3, 2005: Kansas Supreme Court rules the state does not spend enough money on public schools, and gives the Legislature until April 12 to address its concerns. Montoy v. State, 278 Kan. 769, 102 P.3d 1160 (Kan. 2005) (“Montoy II”). The State Supreme Court uses an Augenblick and Myers cost study of approx. $850 million in needed spending – the standard amount Augenblick seems to offer as a “one size fits all” solution to education funding suits in its several decades of selling “education funding formulas”.


March 30, 2005: The legislature responds by enacting House Bill 2247. The bill increases funding for K-12 public schools by $142 million. The Governor allowed the bill to become law without her signature.


July 28, 2006: Montoy v. State, 112 P.3d 923, 279 Kan. 817 (Kan. 2005) (“Montoy III”). The Kansas Supreme Court held that the legislature’s appropriation of $142 million in response to the Montoy II decision was not sufficient to bring the state’s school finance system into compliance with its duty under the state constitution to provide "suitable provision" for education.


July 28, 2006: Legislators approved large increases in funding for at-risk programs during the past two years to comply with Kansas Supreme Court orders. By 2008-09, the state will be spending $261 million on at-risk programs, five times as much as it did in 2004-05.

November 14, 2006: As part of the latest State Supreme Court ruling, an audit of education spending was completed by the state auditing division. They found that 17% of a random sampling of students did not qualify for the free lunch programs they were receiving, costing the state $19 million dollars per year in increased costs which will escalate to $46 million by 2008 – 09.


Shows you just what the courts can do with education funding when they put their minds to it. No wonder our New Hampshire State Supreme Court and Legislature are so excited about “solving” the Claremont Eduction funding problem.


We are only half way there!


(No Amendment No Peace)