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Kansas Supreme Court Says Schools Could Close If System Doesn't Change

Wichita lawyer Alan Rupe in his office. He's been suing Kansas over school funding since 1989.
Sam Zeff
/
KCUR
Wichita lawyer Alan Rupe in his office. He's been suing Kansas over school funding since 1989.

In 13 states, parents and school districts are suing, saying schools aren't getting enough money to serve the needs of students.

In no other state are the courts more baked in to school funding than in Kansas, though.

There, the state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the latest funding case within the next week. If justices don't approve of the legislators' fix to the system, the court could shut down public schools on June 30.

One of the plaintiffs in that case is the Kansas City school district. "I understand that people want to paint us as money-grubbing mongers," says district Superintendent Cynthia Lane.

"But really what we want is adequate resources to do the job we know how to do."

Lane's students are poor: 80 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Most, she says, live in homes without computers or books. That's why her district is suing the state.

There's much more on the story in Kansas. To find out why Alan Rupe, a lawyer, has been suing Kansas for 27 years, click here.

The story of the school funding debate between the courts and lawmakers in Kansas is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR's Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students. Join the conversation on Twitter by using #SchoolMoney.

Copyright 2016 KCUR 89.3

Sam grew up in Overland Park and was educated at the University of Kansas. After working in Philadelphia where he covered organized crime, politics and political corruption he moved on to TV news management jobs in Minneapolis and St. Louis. Sam came home in 2013 and covered health care and education at KCPT. He came to work at KCUR in 2014. Sam has a national news and documentary Emmy for an investigation into the federal Bureau of Prisons and how it puts unescorted inmates on Grayhound and Trailways buses to move them to different prisons. Sam has one son and is pretty good in the kitchen.