KASB message on driving student success as Legislature returns

As the Kansas Legislature returned Wednesday for the 2016 wrap up session, KASB President Don Shimkus released the following message:

As the Kansas Legislature enters its veto session and final days of the 2016 Legislative Session, KASB reaffirms its support of the vision of the Kansas State Board of Education: “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.”

The outcomes identified by the State Board of Education, also supported by KASB, include kindergarten readiness, increasing graduation rates, increasing the percentage of students completing a credential or pursuing postsecondary education, providing each student with an individual plan of study focused on career interest and developing local measures for social/emotional factors relative to student success.

KASB supports efforts to develop a school finance plan that will make this vision a reality for every Kansas child. This plan must include the following key components:

KASB believes it will take more resources to achieve higher graduation rates, college readiness and postsecondary participation. The states that outperform Kansas on these and other measures all spend more money per pupil.  

More support is required for students who, through no fault of their own, come to school disadvantaged by poverty, disability or language barriers. In Kansas, in other states and in private schools, these students tend to come to school lagging behind their peers in language and social skills and too often remain behind. Providing more resources for additional special instruction, and helping families through other supports may not close the gap, but will give these students new opportunities for success.

More support is also required for career technical education in important employment areas and to put these programs on par with postsecondary academic programs.

KASB believes students require support and skills beyond academic skills to be successful adults. Our fellow Kansans who participated in the State Board of Education’s listening tour and surveys agreed. Schools offer extracurricular activities, health and nutrition programs for these very reasons. Additional skills are also part of the Rose Capacities adopted by the Kansas Supreme Court and Legislature.

KASB believes school districts must be able to offer salaries and benefits to attract and retain qualified and effective teachers, leaders and support staff, and be able to tailor their compensation packages to local community and district needs.

If the state wishes to set limits on district cash balances, KASB believes a plan should be phased in and provide exceptions for special circumstances and funds where higher balances are appropriate.

KASB supports efforts to continue seeking operating efficiencies that result in more effective use of resources and accomplishment of local priorities.

KASB supports local option funding for raising revenue, but only if all districts can raise similar revenue with a similar tax effort. This is the key principle of school funding equity and the path to creating success for every Kansas child.

KASB believes all schools receiving public funding should be required to serve all students equally and be held publicly accountable for student success.

KASB supports the concept of rewards or incentives for success, but only for results districts can directly influence and only if all districts can compete equitably.

KASB’s membership, leadership and staff stand ready to partner in the development of a school finance plan that will support success and provide accountability for all students and all schools receiving public funds.

April 27, 2016