Kansas Supreme Court stays ruling that ordered higher school funding

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday ordered mediation of the dispute over school finance and a stay of a decision issued earlier this year in which a three-judge panel said state funding for public schools is unconstitutionally low.

The requests for mediation and a stay were filed last month by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt at the request of Gov. Sam Brownback.

A lead attorney for the school districts suing the state said that neither order surprised him and that his team wasn’t opposed to mediation.

“Anything that would move this issue toward resolution has got to be good for the kids of Kansas,” said John Robb, lead attorney for Schools for Fair Funding, a coalition of 52 districts.

“If this has the potential of setting Kansas on the right course for its kids, then full speed ahead, and we’ll see where it goes.”

The ruling issued in January calls for lawmakers to raise the base per-pupil state aid from $3,838 to $4,492, at a cost of about $437 million statewide.

According to the court order issued Friday, parties in the lawsuit will have seven days to agree to a mediator. If they fail to agree, the court will appoint one.