- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Four school districts that are suing the state asked a court Thursday to block Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s $4.1 billion overhaul of the way the state distributes aid to schools.

The law scraps the state’s school funding formula and replaces it with fixed payments directly to school districts in the form of “block grants” and was signed into law by the governor in a private ceremony Wednesday.

The plaintiffs claim in the motion that the law would cause “irreparable harm” to all of the state’s school districts by reducing overall funding and distributing it unequally.

Brownback’s office referred questions to the attorney general’s office.

Jennifer Rapp, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said in an emailed statement that the state had not wavered in its support of the rewritten law.

“We will continue to defend the school finance law as written, and now rewritten, by the people of Kansas, through their elected representatives,” she said.

The four school districts filed the lawsuit in 2010 claiming the state’s funding levels and distribution methods violated the Kansas Constitution, and a three-judge panel issued an order in December saying that the state should be spending at least $548 million more on schools.

The three-judge panel will hear arguments on whether the state has met its obligations to distribute money fairly on May 7 and has said that it may take measures to halt changes to the school funding framework until the case is concluded.

Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, said in a statement that it is no surprise that the constitutionality of school funding in the state is being challenged given the many “needless changes” to school funding over the past 25 years.

“It’s time for the governor and the Republican legislature to get serious about adequately and equitably funding Kansas schools,” Hensley said in the statement.

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