Mo. school districts to appeal funding lawsuit decision

Friday, November 2, 2007

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- A group of more than 200 Missouri school districts isn't giving up on a lawsuit challenging the state's school funding system.

The districts want the state's $2.7 billion school funding plan to be declared unconstitutional for failing to provide adequate or equitable support for public schools. A Cole County circuit judge rejected those claims in a ruling made final last month.

On Thursday, a group representing Missouri's rural school districts said it would appeal that decision to the state Supreme Court.

Jeff Lindsey, superintendent of the Van Buren school district and a leader of the Committee for Educational Equality, pointed out that a different circuit court ruling in 1993 found the system to be invalid.

That case never reached the state's highest court, with lawmakers instead voting to overhaul the school funding formula.

"I think it's time that we got a definitive answer to this," Lindsey said.

Joining the appeal is the Coalition to Fund Excellent Schools, whose membership includes large suburban districts.

Critics of the lawsuit have called on districts to abandon their appeal, citing the more than $4.1 million in legal fees taxpayers already have paid to fight both sides of the case.

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