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Circuit Court Rejects School Districts' Claims in School Funding Lawsuit

A circuit court has upheld Missouri's school funding method, rejecting claims of inadequate funding from a group of public school districts. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

A circuit court ruling issued today (Wednesday, August 29) upholds Missouri's school funding method.

The ruling from Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan rejects the claim from about half the state's school districts that education funding is inadequate and unfairly distributed.

Stephen Kleinsmith is the superintendent of Nixa Public Schools and is treasurer of the Committee for Educational Equality, which is suing on behalf of the districts. He says the ruling is disappointing but notes that the group hasn't exhausted the appeals process.

Judge Richard Callahan ruled that the state constitution provides no guarantee of absolute equality, equity, or adequacy in funding.

But Kleinsmith says that's not what the districts are seeking.

Critics of the lawsuit have expressed anger that the districts are trying to circumvent the legislature to obtain more funding.

Senator Gary Nodler of Joplin is chairman of the Appropriations Committee and former chairman of the Education Committee. He says it was wrong for districts to pursue this lawsuit in the first place.

Nodler says he's disappointed that the districts likely will appeal the ruling to the state supreme court.

A statement from Governor Matt Blunt praised the ruling, which upholds the school funding mechanism he signed into law.