According to press reports, Schools for Fair Funding — the Montoy school lawsuit finance districts — is examining the possibility of re-opening the school finance lawsuit because of the cuts to education that were made by the 2009 legislature.
John Robb, one of the two attorneys who represented the original group of districts in the suit, said, “The $755 million was almost like a court-ordered settlement, and now the Legislature is going backwards.”
While no decision has been made as of right now, the plaintiffs have been meeting to discuss their options. Robb maintains that while the state is constitutionally prohibited from deficit spending, it is also constitutionally required to provide for education.
Cuts enacted by the 2009 legislature have put base state aid per pupil (BSAPP) at just $27 over the 2005-06 school year when the lawsuit was settled.
Judging by this material, it might seem like schools are in bad shape financially, what with spending per student increasing by just $27 over three years.
But when you look at the total spending picture of Kansas schools, you get a different picture.
During the 2005-06 school year, total spending by Kansas public schools was $4,689,294,566, or $10,596 per student.
For the just-competed school year, 2008-09, total spending is estimated at $5,623,881,398, or $12,554 per student.
That’s an increase of $1,958 per student. That’s 18.5%. You have to consider just a portion of spending — base state aid per pupil — to arrive at just a $27 increase in spending.
It’s not uncommon for the school spending lobby and its supporters to do what they can to hide the magnitude of spending on schools. They’ll also do their best to exaggerate the effects any slowdown in the rapid rate at which spending has been increasing. This was demonstrated by Rep. Melody McCray-Miller at a recent legislative forum in Wichita. She disputed the total amount of spending by the Wichita school district. Wichita board of education member Lanora Nolan disputed these same figures at a Wichita Pachyderm Club meeting.