KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

KASB Advocacy Blog - Mark Tallman

Answering questions about public education during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kansas schools have been mostly closed for two months and are seven weeks into continuous learning plans that try to make up for some of the lost time. Governor Laura Kelly has released a four-stage, six-week plan to re-open business and social activities, as people wonder how the future will look. The state and national shutdown has caused massive unemployment, threatens countless businesses, and sent state revenue projections plummeting. These facts are creating many questions about public education going forward. As KASB works to answer these at the state level, many times the answer is simply “we don’t know yet,”...

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New reports show states with highest educational attainment have highest personal income

New state personal income data for 2019 shows the importance of educational attainment in state economic prosperity. States with higher percentages of their populations completing educational benchmarks, such as high school graduation, any postsecondary education, and four-year degrees, consistently have higher average income for people in their states. While the impact of the COVID pandemic is not yet known it seems unlikely to change these results in the future. Kansas ranks in the top 20 out of 50 states in educational attainment. Kansas income levels rank slightly above average but increase into the top 20 states when adjusted for cost of living...

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COVID economic crisis threatens Kansas school budgets

As school leaders struggle with questions over when and how students will return to classes in school buildings, they face another issue: growing uncertainly over how to budget for next year. The 2020 Legislature passed and the Governor signed an appropriations bill that increased state general fund aid to school districts by $117.5 million next (Fiscal Year 2021) over the current year. But new state revenue estimates indicate the state general fund is now facing a $653 million deficit next year - over 8 percent of approved spending. With over 50 percent of the state general fund budget going to K-12...

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Plunging revenue forecast creates challenges for state budget, school funding

State tax and fiscal experts have lowered the estimate for Kansas state general fund revenues by nearly $827 million in the current fiscal year (FY 2020), which ends June 30, and $445 million next year (FY 2021), compared to the official revenue estimates released last November. (April 20 CRE Memo) The state was expected to end the current year with an ending balance of almost $930 million, or nearly 12 percent. The new estimates would reduce the ending balance to $205.2 million, or 2.7 percent. The revised estimates for next year mean the budget approved by the Legislature in March...

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How Kansas public education is responding to the Coronavirus Crisis

It has been less than one month since Governor Laura Kelly ordered Kansas schools to cease traditional operations until the end of May, followed by local, state and federal directives for people to stay home as much as possible, and upending life as most of us know it.  The Kansas Association of School Boards has just completed a series of on-line meetings for school board members and superintendents to discuss how the current crisis is affecting students, families, and educators. Here is what we learned.  The first priority, of course, was health and safety. This meant complying with orders for social distancing and deep cleaning of facilities, but it was immediately clear it meant...

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COVID-19 economic impact could threaten state and school district budgets

As school leaders work to maintain some level of instruction and other support for children with school buildings closed until the end of May, there are growing concerns that the economic fall-out from the COVID pandemic could undermine the state budget, which provides about two-thirds of total school funding. The COVID crisis has not affected state revenues yet. State general fund receipts for March were down just 1.6 percent for the month, and revenues for the year remain about $175 million higher than projected in November. Even without the extra revenues, the budget adopted by the Kansas Legislature is projected...

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Education legislation at Turnaround

The 2020 Kansas Legislature has reached it first major deadline, called “Turnaround,” when most bills are supposed to have been passed by the chamber where they were introduced.  In three weeks, by March 20, bills are supposed to be out of committees in the second house; and passed by the second house by March 25, leaving just over a week for conference committees to iron out differences and the Legislature to take final action on bills before the end of the regular session on April 3.  However, their are numerous exempt bills, exempt committees and ways legislation can be introduced or...

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How are Kansas school districts allocating funds to improve student success?

Why are some measures of student success in Kansas, such as state and national assessment results, flat or even declining, with many groups of students performing much lower than their peers? For most school leaders – at least those active in KASB – the most common answers are, first, eight years of school funding falling behind inflation; and second, growing numbers of harder-to-educate children due to poverty, social and emotional issues, childhood trauma and other factors the school system must address even before teaching begins. But some legislators say a big part of the problem is that school boards and administrators...

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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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