February 23, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

SFFF Lawyers Clean Up with $7M from Schools

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School districts funneled more than $7 million in taxpayer funding to attorneys who sued the state for additional taxpayer money. Kansas Policy Institute reports that 80 of the state’s 286 school districts contributed $7.3 million in membership fees to Schools for Fair Funding since 2005.

School districts funneled more than $7 million in taxpayer funding to attorneys who sued the state for additional taxpayer money.

Since 2005, SFFF has sued the state several times seeking additional funding. The most recent lawsuit alleged that public school funding wasn’t adequate, and the Kansas Supreme Court demanded lawmakers scratch block grant funding and replace it with a financing formula that is “adequately calculated.”

The legislature responded with a financing formula that adds $294 million in school funding over the next two years. The Court has yet to rule whether the new formula meets its test. During oral arguments over the most recent formula, SFFF attorney Alan Rupe asked that the Court deem the latest influx of public school cash inadequate.

In the meantime, 35 school districts paid SFFF membership fees totaling more than $320,000 for the 2018 school year. Membership fees are based on a district’s enrollment. Using funding that could have been used to increase teacher pay or for instruction, the Wichita School District has paid more than $2.2 million in fees to fund SFFF lawsuits. That’s the equivalent of hiring approximately 50 teachers at an average salary of $44,000. The Kansas City, Kansas, School District paid more than $860,000 in SFFF fees, or the equivalent of almost 20 full time teachers. A spreadsheet of district membership fees to SFFF is here.

SFFF’s courtroom opponents are essentially taxpayers, but the organization says its adversaries are “opponents of public education,” who “want the privatization of schools or a free market approach to education; as well as a shift of funding from the state to local property taxes.Their tactic is to cut public funding of schools that pits groups of students, rich and poor, western and urban, against each other in a competition for education.”

KPI President Dave Trabert calls that description, “insulting.”

“School districts’ shameful claims about ‘opponents’ are blatantly false,” he says. “And no one is proposing to privatize education or to favor one group or region over another.  These absurd claims are merely strong-arm tactics intended to scare citizens into submitting to their monetary demands.”






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