ALERT: School funding debate today; KASB opposes HB 2395.

The Kansas House today is scheduled to debate two bills – HB 2395 and SB 16 — concerning school funding and education policy today, both recommended Thursday by the K-12 Education Budget Committee. KASB opposes HB 2395. We support portions of SB 16 but believe those policy items should be addressed after the school funding issue is resolved. School leaders are urged to contact House members about your views on these bills. 

School board members are urged to contact their legislators through text or phone calls to encourage them to vote against both bills.

There are many other bills scheduled for floor debate today, and it is possible the education bills could be postponed, but there are only eight scheduled days for the Legislature to meet before adjournment of the regular session on April 5. 

KASB believes HB 2395 will fall short of what is needed to resolve the Gannon school finance lawsuit. It provides funding for only the first two years of an inflation adjustment to the school finance plan passed least session, then eliminates the final two years of that plan, as well as a cost of living adjustment for future years. 

As result, KASB believes it would worsen the state’s position with the court, leave funding below previous constitutional levels after adjustment for inflation, and likely leave Kansas per pupil funding below other states in the nation and region. KASB supports SB 142, which contains the recommendation to address Gannon proposed by the State Board of Education, recommended by the Governor and passed by the Senate 32-8. 

SB 16, as heavily amended by the House committee, contains a number of policy provisions. KASB supports some of those provisions, but opposes others, including removal of the 92 percent of excess special education funding target, caps bilingual weighting with evidence of a problems, and imposes new requirements on local transportation policies. 

KASB believes SB 16 should not be considered until the school funding issue is resolved. 

Detailed descriptions of HB 2395 and SB 16 are provided below. 

Two other education bills are scheduled for debate in the House today: 

SB 7 – Moving school board officer elections and organizations from July to January. KASB does not have a specific position on the change of date but supports the bill’s provision allowing local boards to choose a date and give more flexibility for local elections to change school board voting plans. 

SB 128 – Requiring at least nine safety drills to be conducted by schools each year including fire, tornado and crisis drills. KASB supports this change to reduce what school leaders believe was an unintentionally excessive number of drills this year. 

Response to Gannon, HB 2395: 

HB 2395 is the House committee’s response to the Gannon school finance case. It would provide the same level of additional funding as recommended by the State Board of Education, Gov. Laura Kelly and the Kansas Senate for the next two years and an “inflation adjustment” as requested by the Kansas Supreme Court to accept the five-year phase of constitutional funding. 

However, for final two years of the plan, 2022 and 2023, it not only fails to provide a final two years of the proposed inflation adjustment, it also repeals the final two steps in base state aid increases approved last session, as well as future indexing of the base per pupil and artificial Local Option Budget base to inflation. 

As a result, it not only fails to address the inflation adjustment for the court, it actually steps back from the level of funding tentative approved by the court in last year’s school finance bill. KASB believes this bill will not be accepted by the court, fails to meet the Legislature’s own goal last session to restore foundation funding to 2009 levels adjusted for inflation, and will leave Kansas behind per pupil funding in other states. 

KASB urges the House to adopt the funding proposed by the State Board of Education and Governor and passed by the Senate 32-8 in the form of SB 142, to quickly resolve the school finance case. 

Education Policy, SB 16: 

SB 16 contains numerous education policy matters. Many are already required or being done. Some could require some increase in school operating costs. In many cases, KASB has not taken a position because the issue has not been raised before. Here are the key provisions where KASB has a position. 

KASB supports: 

Out-of-state students funding. Sec. 12-13 – Repeals provision in last year’s school finance that would reduce state funding for out-of-state students enrolling in Kansas. As a result, non-Kansans would continue to be counted the same as state residents. 

Free ACT. Sec. 3 – Makes permanent in law state payment of ACT and Workkeys tests for all students. 

State bond cap modified. Sec. 20 – Amends the state bond cap to exclude maintenance or repair of facilities. 

Dyslexia Task Force. Sec. 24 – Extends Dyslexia Task Force to 2022. 

KASB supports these changes from the original House bill: 

Bullying Prevention. We support creation of bullying prevention task force. The bill defers to a Task Force formed by the Commissioner of Education. The bill creates a bullying hotline similar to the School Safety Hotline and provides some additional requirements for school district bullying plans. 

Cash Balances. The bill provides for a Legislative Post Audit of district cash balances, instead of imposing arbitrary and inflexible limits. This would provide an independent review of appropriate levels and policies. 

KASB opposes: 

Special education aid. Sec. 9 – Repeals 92 percent of excess cost target for special education aid. Does not change amount of aid but removes the expressed goal of 92 percent funding. We believe the Legislature should work to meet this goal, rather than abandoning the goal. 

Bilingual weighting time limit. Sec. 15 – Limits bilingual participation for weighting to five years (up from four in original HB 2395). KASB has not seen evidence that students are being unnecessarily retained in bilingual programs and would note there is scheduled Legislative Post Audit of bilingual education in next few years. 

Transportation under 2.5 miles. Sec. 22 – Sec. 23 – Requires districts to provide transportation of students living within 2.5 miles of schools if there is no safe pedestrian route, as defined in the bill, if it does not increase transportation costs. KASB believes this should be a local matter and believes it will lead to disputes on how additional cost is determined. 

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