January 26, 2016

Special Alert: KASB urging school leaders contact legislators about 3 bills to be considered next week by House Education Committee

The House Education Committee has announced hearings next week on three bills KASB says could erode educational quality and equity in the state.

KASB is urging school leaders to review the potential impact of these bills, contact their legislators about concerns, and if possible or attend the committee hearing and meet with legislators.

House Bill 2486 would create a legislative committee that would approve how much of a school bond project would be eligible for state aid. It will be heard by the committee at 1:30 p.m. Mon. Feb. 1. The bill could limit state aid to “instructional” areas of school facilities, which means districts with less valuation would require higher taxes for student and instructional support functions, safety features and student activities.

House Bill 2457 would expand a program that provides state tax credits for contributions to take students out of public school and send them to private school. This bill will be heard at 1:30 p.m. Tue. Feb. 2. Private school under the program may be selective in the students they admit or exclude, and are not required to report on student success or financial operations.

And House Bill 2504 would require every county with 10,000 or fewer students to be a single district and those with over 10,000 must have at least 1,500 students. This measure will be considered at 1:30 p.m. Wed. Feb. 3. KASB says the bill would change longstanding school district communities.

KASB opposes all three bills and officials with the organization plan to testify, but the concerns of individual school board members, administrators and other school leaders need to be voiced to the committee too. At the end of this article, KASB has provided a more detailed look of all three bills.

In addition, here are the instructions from Sue Mollenkamp, who is the committee assistant, concerning notification and deadlines for people who want to submit testimony. She can be reached at 785-296-7310 and by email at Sue.Mollenkamp@house.ks.gov

HB 2486: Notify Mollenkamp of your intent to submit testimony by 5 p.m. Thur. Jan. 28. Have your electronic file to Mollenkamp by 11 a.m. on Fri. Jan. 29.

HB 2457: Notify Mollenkamp of your intent to submit testimony by 5 p.m. Fri. Jan. 29.  Have your electronic file to Mollenkamp by 11 a.m. on Mon. Feb. 1.

HB 2504: Notify Mollenkamp of your intent to submit testimony by 5 p.m. on Mon. Feb. 1. Have your electronic file to Mollenkamp by 11 a.m. on Tue. Feb. 2.

Here are more details about the bills:

HB 2486 - Creating the school district bond project review board

  • 2015 Block Grant SB 7 amended state aid formula for bond election held between July 1, 2015 and July 1, 2017; abolished state aid after July 1, 2017
    • This bill reinstates new formula for elections held after Jan. 1, 2016, subject to approval of oversight board.
    • The formula provides 75 percent state aid for district with LOWEST valuation per pupil; drops 1 percent for each $1,000 increase in AVPP.
  • Bill creates the school district bond project review board - made up of chairs and ranking minority of Appropriations/Ways and Means; two members of State Board.
    • “The board shall determine the extent to which the facility being constructed or improved is to be utilized by the school district for direct instruction of students of the school district, and shall express such utilization as a percentage of the total utilization of such facility.” (Not defined)
    • “Any architectural enhancements to a facility beyond basic building planning and design shall not be deemed part of the facility that is utilized for direct instruction of students.” (Not defined)
  • Only the percentage of the project approved by the board should be eligible for state aid.
  • Note: This concept was recommended by the K-12 Student Success Committee; as well as the use of a state building architect and project manager; limited amount of aid per year.

HB 2457 - Amending the tax credit for low income students scholarship program act

Major changes are as follows:

  • Changes part of definition of eligible student from an at-risk student attending a public school to a child whose family household income does not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty level.  Removes portion of definition which required them to be enrolled at a public school the previous year or to be eligible to be enrolled in the first year sought for the child and the child is under the age of 6.
  • Removes portion of public school definition that required the school to be either a Title I focus or Title I priority school.
  • Adds a provision to require scholarship granting organization to give preference to students who received a scholarship the previous year.
  • Adds provision requiring scholarship granting organization to break payment into two installments (First and second semester).
  • Section 4 removes reference to corporate income tax. Now reads: "There shall be allowed a credit against the tax liability imposed upon a taxpayer . . ." This would allow individuals to claim the credit.
  • Section 4 also changes the amount of the credit from 70 percent of the contribution to the SGO to 100 percent of the contribution.
  • Adds provision that prohibits the credit be given to anyone who designates the contribution for the benefit of a dependent.
  • Increases the limit of the total amount of credits from $10M to $12.5M.

HB 2504 - School district realignment

  • Requires Kansas State Board of Education to oversee redesign of districts by July 1, 2017; take effect one year later.
    • Every county with 10,000 or fewer students to be a single district; over 10,000 districts must have at least 1,500.
    • Apparently based on public school district students who are resident of the county.
    • Boundaries generally follow county lines - exceptions:
      • Voluntary consolidations to reach threshold by July 1, 2017
      • State Board may take into account efficiency, not divide cities or townships
      • Boundary of districts in over 10,000 countries, redrawn if necessary to reach 1,500
      • Innovative districts may not be divided or disorganized; may have territory added
  • Bond debt will remain with territory that originally approved; so part of new district may be taxed for previous bond issues.
  • “The number of school administration and supervisory service employees employed by a realigned school district shall not exceed 120 percent of the number of school administration and supervisory service employees of the school district with the largest enrollment in the prior year.” (Not defined)
  • Districts must inventory real property and vehicles for central office; all excess property not required for new central office goes to the state to be sold.
  • No provision of process of determining new school board.