The KASB weekly advocacy webinar Friday at 12:30 p.m. will focus on an explanation of the background and impact of the new bill concerning board negotiations with teachers, a subject likely to draw significant controversy both at the Statehouse and in local districts. Originally concerning an unrelated subject, HB 2027 was amended and reintroduced as a substitute bill addressing some of the issues previously contained in HB 2085, by the House Commerce Committee. The new bill was recommended by the committee Tuesday, but has been re-referred to the House Appropriations Committee, which makes it exempt from deadlines. It is expected to be sent back to the Commerce Committee for a hearing next week.
The new bill contains provisions based on KASB policies and a survey conducted by the Kansas Association of School Superintendents. KASB is preparing a full analysis of the bill that will be sent to Capital Update subscribers and discussed at Friday’s webinar, where we will also respond to questions.
The webinar will also review the status of education legislation as of Friday’s “turnaround” deadline for non-exempt bills to be passed by the first house. Relatively few education bills are moving through the process at this point. Here is a summary of yesterday’s action and today’s schedule.
On House Final Action today:
HB 2349 – School Efficiency Audits. Advanced to final action on a voice vote yesterday, the bill would require the Legislative Division of Post Audit to conduct three school district efficiency audits each fiscal year.
The school districts would be selected for audit by the Legislative Post Audit Committee, on a voluntary basis, at first. One small, one medium, and one large school district would be audited each fiscal year. The audited school districts would publish a summary of its audit report with recommendations on the district’s website as well as making the audit report available, free of charge, at the district office. KASB testified in favor of the bill.
HB 2221 – Equal Access for Teacher Associations. Also advanced on a voice vote, the bill would establish the Equal Access Act for professional employees’ organizations. It would modify the Professional Negotiations Act by requiring all local boards of education to (1) Give equal access for all professional employees’ associations to the employees’ physical or electronic mailboxes; and (2) Allow equal access for all professional employees’ associations to attend new teacher or employee school orientations and other meetings.
Local boards of education would not be allowed to designate any day or breaks in a school year by naming or referring to the name of any professional employees’ association. The bill would amend the Professional Negotiations Act by making the Equal Access Act supplemental and part of that law. Changes in the Professional Negotiations Act would include expanding the definition of “professional employees’ organizations” to include those existing for the purpose of professional development or liability protection. KASB did not take a position on the bill.
On House General Orders Today:
HB 2109 – Military Student Second Count. The bill would authorize a second count of military students on February 20 to determine the number of students enrolled in a school district to continue through the 2017-2018 school year. The authorization is set to expire at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. The bill has been non-controversial. KASB did not take a position on the bill.
HB 2222 – School District Bullying Policies. The bill would amend current law related to school district policies on bullying. Current law defines “bullying” as an intentional gesture or threat creating an intimidating environment for a student or staff member. The bill would clarify the definition of bullying to mean any threat by a student, staff member, or parent toward a student or by any student, staff member, or parent toward a staff member. The bill would define “parent” to include a guardian, custodian, or other person with authority to act on behalf of a child. The bill would define “staff member” to mean any person employed by the school district. The bill would require these changes be reflected in the school districts’ policies and plans to address bullying. KASB testified in favor of the original bill, which dealt only with staff members. KASB is reviewing the legal issues involving the inclusion of parents.
On Senate Final Action today:
SB 128 – Career Technical Education Incentives. The bill would amend the statute creating the Career Technical Education (CTE) Incentive Program. The bill would specify that a student’s accomplishment of obtaining an industry-recognized credential in one of certain specific occupations (a criterion for a school district or community or technical college to receive an incentive award) must be completed prior to graduation from high school or by December 31 immediately following graduation. Currently, the credential must be completed by graduation. KASB is supportive of the concept but did not testify on the bill.
On Senate General Orders today:
SB 171 – School District Accounting and Reporting. The bill would amend the Kansas Uniform Financial Accounting and Reporting Act. The bill would require each school district and the Kansas Department of Education (KSDE) to report on their respective websites the budget summary for the current school year, as well as actual expenditures for the immediately preceding two school years showing total net transfers and amounts spent per pupil by specific function, disaggregated to show the per-pupil revenue amounts from local, state, and federal sources. KASB testified in opposition due to provisions in the original bill that added significant new reporting requirements for student activities. Those provisions were removed in committee.
Bills “Below the Line” today:
Several education bill have been recommended by committee and placed on general orders but are not scheduled for debate. These include:
Innovative School Districts. Two very similar bills, SB 176 and HB 2319, would allow up to 10 school districts to be designed as innovative districts and granted exemptions from most state school laws and regulations, in exchange for adopting higher student completion requirements for college and career readiness. KASB supports both bills, which are exempt from Friday’s deadline.
HB 2059 – State Sales and Income Tax Rates. The bill, on Senate General Orders, contains a modified version of the Governor’s plan to extend the state sales tax at the current rate and eliminate the home mortgage interest deduction in order to avoid deep cuts in the state budget. It also provides further cuts in the state income tax in the future. The bill is exempt from deadline. KASB supports state tax policies to maintain funding for education.
HB 2232 – Teacher Liability Insurance. On House General Orders, the bill would require the State Board of Education, within appropriation limits, to purchase liability insurance for Kansas teachers. The bill would require the State Board of Education to coordinate the purchase of liability insurance with each school district in a cost effective and efficient manner. The bill is not currently exempt, and there are questions about the actual cost and impact of the proposal. KASB did not take a position on the bill.
HB 2280 – Celebrate Freedom Week. The bill would designate the week containing September 17 as “Celebrate Freedom Week,” during which public schools would be required to teach the history of the country’s founding, with particular emphasis on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The bill would require religious references in the writings of the founding fathers could not be censored when presented as part of the instruction. The State Board of Education would be responsible for adopting rules and regulations to require history and government curriculum that includes instruction on the meaning and context of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, major wars, and social movements in American history. The State Board of Education, along with other volunteers, would promote “Celebrate Freedom Week.” The bill is not currently exempt. KASB did not take a position on the bill, as most of the elements are already included in state curriculum standards.