KASB Legislative Committee forwards platform to members

KASB’s Legislative Committee on Nov. 4 approved draft policy language to set the organization’s 2018 legislative priorities in Topeka and Washington, D.C. The recommendations will be finalized by the KASB Delegate Assembly on Dec. 3 in Wichita during the association’s annual conference. 

The committee, which is comprised of representatives from each of KASB’s ten geographic regions and the state’s five largest school districts, recommended the organization adopt a 2018 state resolution focusing on the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision in the Gannon school finance case. Here is a link to the report. 

The resolution, entitled “Reinvest, Redesign, Results: Continuing Improvement in Kansas Student Success,” says the Gannon V ruling “is an opportunity to take the next steps to reinvest in Kansas K-12 education, redesign schools to help more students succeed, and improve measurable results for high school completion, postsecondary participation and workforce skills as defined by the Kansas State Board of Education’s Kansas Can Vision.” 

“The Legislature should now address the Court’s adequacy issues by working with the State Board of Education and local school boards to develop a long-term plan based on the goals Kansas needs to achieve and a credible estimate of the resources required to reach those goals,” the resolution states. “Such a plan would involve a partnership between the three institutions with constitutional responsibility for K-12 education in Kansas, as well as higher education, other state agencies and local communities.” 

The draft resolution does not name a desired level of Kansas K-12 funding but notes the U.S. states with the best rates of educational success across multiple measures all provide significantly higher funding than Kansas, even including the additional funding enacted by the 2017 Legislature. Those states have several characteristics in common, including high teacher salaries, more instructional staff and smaller pupil teacher ratios, more support staff, and smaller average schools and districts. Finally, Kansas districts have had success with specific targeted programs, such as expanded preschool, reading interventions, AVID, Jobs for Americas Graduates and many more. However, funding for these programs remains limited, far below the number of students who could benefit.  

The legislative committee also recommended a one-year resolution that expands upon KASB’s current federal policy. 

In addition to restating the organization’s opposition to using public funding for private education (vouchers, tax credits), the resolution supports full funding of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  

The resolution supports continuation and modernization of the E-Rate program to ensure equitable access to telecommunications, broadband and high-speed learning options for schools, students and their families. It also includes sections on KASB’s support of the legal status of undocumented students who are long-term residents of the United States; opposition to changes in the federal Medicaid program that would reduce funding or eligibility for school-based special education services; and opposition to federal tax changes that would require reductions in federal education aid. 

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