Kansas Bills We Are Watching
Bills we are watching:
HB 2119 started out as a single-issue bill but has grown into a behemoth with many important provisions that would affect school funding. After a long battle in court, the 2018 Kansas Legislature increased funding for public schools by $90 million in an effort to provide adequate funding for Kansas schools. We must continue to fully fund our schools without attaching other mandates.This bill could go to the House floor any day. Please contact our Douglas Cunty Representatives:Rep. Mike Amyx; Mike.Amyx@house.ks.govRep. Barbara Ballard; firstname.lastname@example.orgRep. Christina Haswood; email@example.comRep. Boog Highberger; firstname.lastname@example.orgRep. Lance Neelly; email@example.comMore info. about the bill:
- It includes HB 2068/SB 11 expansion of the tax credit scholarship program. This expands the current program to be accessible to every student rather than those in a low performing public schools as currently intended. It does not require the private school to be accredited by KESA, provide for special education services, or serve every student regardless of any individual needs.
- It includes the original HB 2119 which is a massive Education Savings Account (type of voucher) bill. The bill diverts public money to private schools at a time when Kansas is still working towards constitutional funding levels for our public schools. It does not require private schools to be accredited or teach subjects beyond history and government. There is no cap on the program, and no academic accountability provisions or minimal financial accountability provisions such as those for public schools. Many studies have shown that voucher programs have generally not led to improved academic performance and have often led to losses.
- It includes HB 2067/SB 93 which requires districts to allocate funding so as to meet state educational goals rather than allowing locally-elected district boards of education to make these decisions.
- It includes remote learning limits. Provisions in the bill limit the time a district can be in remote learning and further reduces funding for students in remote learning.
- The bill includes reauthorization of the 20-mill statewide levy and essential school funding mandated by the Gannon school finance litigation. This provision is necessary to address fully funding our public schools.
- The bill directs KSDE to use federal COVID funding if available. It is unclear whether such funding can be used for these purposes per restrictions in the federal funding acts, and this funding would be one-time and not a sustainable source of funding. In addition, this funding was meant to provide for additional expenses due to COVID, not base funding of our schools.
- The bill also includes a non-binding direction to local school boards to use federal COVID funding to provide a one-time $500 bonus to classroom teachers.
Please write to Kansas legislators! For a sample script CLICK HERE.
SB 267 A bill which removes millions of dollars from the state budget for k-12 funding:
(1) Remove the increase over 2021 in base state aid and local option budget aid for 2022 and 2023, to reconsider at Omnibus (when Legislature returns May 3), to determine if federal COVID education aid can be used to replace state aid. That removed $173 million in general state aid and $10.2 million LOB state aid for 2021-22 and $259 million general state aid plus $20.7 million LOB state aid for 2022-23. These are the final two years of base increases under the Gannon school finance plan, which was intended to restore base operating aid to 2009 inflation-adjusted levels over a six-year phase-in.
(2) Remove language extending high-density at-risk weighting, which has expired in state law but was extended by proviso in the budget. Without this proviso or passage in another bill, this will remove over $50 million in at-risk funding from districts with the highest percentage of free lunch eligible students. (The high-density at-risk provision would be permanently restored in SB 173, which has been recommended by the Senate Education Committee but not considered by the full Senate.)
Romoving on-going funding from the budget to pay for with one-time stimulus money is a move that historically left Kansas schools underfunded. Further, there is debate as to whether the stimulus money can be used to replace state aid. For more information about this bill CLICK HERE.
SB 208 would force all public schools and colleges to block transgender women and girls from playing on women’s sports teams. The Lawrence Board of Education Policy prohibits discrimination against any individual on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. This bill passed out of the Senate on March 17 and could be taken up by the full House any day.
CLICK HERE to read about other bills that affect public education and where they stand.