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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Schools for Fair Funding meeting in Dodge City

  • USD 443 has invited the Garden City and Liberal school districts to meet with the attorneys who successfully sued the state in a historic education funding battle in 2006.     Schools for Fair Funding has asked Alan Rupe and John Robb, of the Wichita law firm Kutak Rock LLP, to come to Dodge C...
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  • USD 443 has invited the Garden City and Liberal school districts to meet with the attorneys who successfully sued the state in a historic education funding battle in 2006.
        Schools for Fair Funding has asked Alan Rupe and John Robb, of the Wichita law firm Kutak Rock LLP, to come to Dodge City on Sept. 22 to discuss the state of school funding and present the legal options available to Kansas districts.
        SFF's landmark Kansas Supreme Court case, Montoy v Kansas, brought suit against the Legislature for inequities in school funding. After a long and contentious court battle, the Supreme Court ruled that Kansas’ school funding formula violated the state constitution,  and ordered the Legislature to implement a dramatic increase. The Montoy verdict  produced the largest increase to education in Kansas history, resulting in over $92 million for Wichita schools, $12.8 million for Dodge City, $12.3 million for Garden City and $8.4 million for Liberal.
        "We won because the Kansas Legislature was forced to focus on what it actually costs to educate kids," said Rupe by phone from his Wichita office on Tuesday. "Students who are disadvantaged by poverty, limited English ability, or migrant worker status are just going to cost more to educate — and that places an unfair burden on the taxpayers of districts who serve large percentages of those students."
        Rupe said that the gains made by the Montoy decision have been overturned by recent legislative slashes to education funding, which he and numerous Kansas educators have termed a violation of both the state Supreme Court ruling and the Kansas constitution.
        "The Legislature cut funding to education by 22 percent, and more cuts are expected in the coming session," said Rupe. "Nobody wants to go back to court, but those kinds of cuts leave districts with no choice."
        Rupe said that the state cuts have forced school districts to choose litigation as the lesser of two evils.
        "They can either fight the Legislature now to increase funding, or shift the burden to individual school boards," he said. "And if that happens, those districts that simply can't afford to shoulder the huge burden will have no choice but to raise taxes.”
        USD 443 board member Dennis Doris said Tuesday that although the Sept. 22 SFF meeting is open to the public, most of the discussion will take place in executive session. Kansas statute protects as confidential any matters discussed by a public body pertaining to possible litigation.
        "I'd estimate we'll only be in open session for about two minutes before we go into closed session," said Doris. "Of course, we'd have to come back into open session to vote, but no vote is scheduled for this meeting. The presentation and discussion will be for information purposes only."        
    Reach Claire O'Brien at (620) 408-9931 or email her at claire.obrien@dodgeglobe.com

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