KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

Evaluating the Impact of Kansas At-Risk Funding

A new report on at-risk student funding is expected to draw Legislative attention. The number of Kansas students not making adequate progress due to poverty, disability, trauma and other factors has been increasing and the real amount of additional funding for these students has not. Student test scores have tended to follow changes in funding, while other measures have improved. Here are key points: Kansas provides additional funding for at-risk students, based on the number of low-income students, but used to assist any student with problems in school. The number and percentage of at-risk Kansas students has been rising on...

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How Kansas school districts use at-risk funds

A new report from the Legislature’s Post Audit Division raises questions about how Kansas school districts are using state aid earmarked to help students struggling in school, sometimes called “at-risk” students. It’s important to understand how these programs currently operate, what results school districts are getting, and what potential changes might mean.  The state gives districts additional money based on the number of students who qualify for free meals. Studies and actual results show that lower income students are much more likely to struggle in school. However, after districts receive the money, they spend it to help students actually having...

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Changes in school employees reflect school priorities and outcomes

Kansas school districts have used additional state funding over the past three years to add employees, filling positions lost in previous budget cuts and continuing a 20-year trend of expanding services to help students with changing educational needs reach higher levels of success. School employee positions were cut by over 2,200 from 2009 to 2017 when funding fell behind inflation. Since 2017, districts have added 4,356 positions, including 1,323 in the current year. More than 80 percent of those positions have been in four areas: teachers and other instructional staff, student support programs, teacher support, and school building administration. Including these...

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Kansas school boards – changes, challenges and accountability

This is my 30th year working for KASB, and every year I’ve spent the first weekend in December at our annual convention, seeing hundreds of our members just a month before trying to represent them in the legislative session opening in January as their lobbyist.  And as always, I was impressed by these Kansans – the only elected officials in Kansas who by law cannot receive salaries; for whom the biggest perk is a free pass to student activities. They come from literally every walk of life: farmers, small business owners, homemakers and corporate executives; retirees and recent graduates; teachers...

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Preparing for the 2020 Legislature: Key Education Issues

It’s less than two months before the start of the 2020 Legislative Session on Jan. 13. From Thanksgiving to the KASB Convention to Christmas and New Year’s Day, that will go fast. School  leaders are encouraged to determine district priorities and discuss them with legislators before the session. Here are some of the top education issues on the horizon, and links to more information. Please contact KASB if we can assist in any way. Gannon school finance case. After years of trial arguments, appeals, legislative action and judicial response, the Kansas Supreme Court last summer accepted the plan to restore...

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New Kansas educational attainment data show continued long-term improvement

New data from the U.S. Census for 2018 show long-term Kansas educational attainment levels have continued to improve. The Census Bureau annually provides estimates for the Kansas population and the percentage of residents by age groups who have completed various levels of education. The 2018 report demonstrates that as Kansas school districts added programs and expanded their facilities, educational outcomes improved even as student demographics changed. Here are some highlights: More Kansans ages 18 to 24 are completing high school, starting postsecondary education and completing four-year degrees Kansans from age 18 to 24 are the most recent products of the public system....

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How school funding changes compare to inflation, enrollment and educational attainment

Each year at this time the Kansas State Department of Education releases updated budget information for school districts. That often produces questions and comments from school leaders, legislators and other organizations. People are interested in how much funding has changed, especially after increased state funding over the past two years. Unfortunately, some of that information can be quite confusing without a fuller context. Here is a closer look and explanation of some key points. School leaders may want to use this information to explain school funding trends statewide, and for their districts. Here are the highlights: Schooling funding is complicated,...

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Despite critical needs, Kansas families lack early childhood support when they need it most

State leaders, experts and advocates for early childhood met in Wichita in early October for a symposium convened by Governor Laura Kelly and a forum conducted by the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is part of a process to create a new vision for early childhood Kansas. Here are key points from speakers at those meetings, a state needs assessment conducted by four state agencies and research by KASB. Kansas needs to raise the education levels of its workforce and the biggest challenge to higher educational attainment is the unequal conditions students face outside of school. Educational differences...

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State Board of Education at 50: Five decades of change and progress in Kansas public education

The Kansas State Board of Education is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. Voters amended the Kansas Constitution to give the board responsibility for “general supervision” of public education and to provide “intellectual, educational, vocational and scientific improvement.” The same amendment put the responsibility of elected local boards to manage schools in the state constitution. It’s a good time to reflect on how things have changed over those five decades. The typical Kansas classroom today is vastly different today than in 1969. The student population is more diverse, expectations are higher and societal challenges are more complex. At the same time,...

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National school choice report shows traditional public schools perform as well as charter schools; more students in public schools of choice; public and private schools have different students

  School choice has been a controversial topic in public education for decades. One side, visibly represented by current U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, has argued that policies giving parents more choices where to send their children to school will improve education through competition and individualization. The other side argues that these plans will drain public funding from schools serving all students to support schools that can pick their enrollment. A new report from Secretary DeVos’ own Department of Education provides new insights. Some key findings include: Students in public charter schools performed no different than traditional public school students on...

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