Bills on school transportation, land transfer, dyslexia, teacher due process and more before House Education Committee

KASB testified on two bills Wednesday in the House Education Committee as the panel worked to pass out legislation before the February 22 “turnaround” deadline. Also on Wednesday, members rebuffed an attempt to separate teacher due process rights language from a bill the committee passed out earlier this week. The committee may consider several bills on Thursday to push legislation to the House floor. 

KASB testified against HB 2485, which requires transportation of certain students when no safe pedestrian route is available and the school district will not incur additional transportation costs. 

Governmental Relations Specialist Rob Gilligan said KASB was concerned about who would be responsible for auditing or measuring whether districts in fact would incur additional costs. The organization is also concerned that the bill could lead to some — but not all —  eligible students being served.  

Finally, Gilligan noted, the state’s current school district transportation formula “does not even cover the cost of transporting students that are above the 2.5 mile limit.” Gilligan noted that a December 2017 audit report on K-12 transportation funding state auditors found that the current formula does not meet the actual cost for many districts. 

KASB testified as neutral on HB 2723, which permits residents to petition and vote for a transfer of school district territory. Advocacy and Outreach Specialist Leah Fliter said while that ability could result in improved community support for school district of attendance rather than residence, the bill could have several negative impacts as well. Concerns include loss of assessed valuation in the resident school districts, community discord and future difficulties with school closures or district consolidation. 

Also on Wednesday, the committee accepted Rep. Brenda Dietrich’s motion to amend HB 2602, which requires  screenings for dyslexia and related disorders in public schools. Dietrich offered a substitute bill that establishes a task force to study the issue and report recommendations to the legislature on Dec. 1, 2018. 

The committee on Thursday could take action on several bills already heard, including HB 2613 – provision of assistive technology, sign language and Braille services for students with a disability; and HB 2540 – authorizing participation by certain students in activities regulated by the Kansas state high school activities association.  

On teacher due process rights, after several confusing minutes of debate on Wednesday, the committee rejected what appeared to be an attempt to strip due process language out of a bill the committee approved earlier in the week. Rep. Willie Dove moved to strike the contents of HB 2484, an assistive technology bill that was not heard by the committee and insert the language of HB 2578, an anti-bullying bill the committee amended on Tuesday to include language from HB 2179 of 2017, which restored teacher due process rights to state law. Dove said he wanted a “clean” anti-bullying bill. Re-opening debate on HB 2578 could have led to amendments stripping out the due process language. After several moments of procedural debate between committee members and Chair Clay Aurand, Aurand adjourned the hearing without acting on Dove’s motion.  

 

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