Teacher Bargaining; Common Core; Guns; Innovation; Tax Policy

Teacher Bargaining; Common Core; Guns; Innovation; Tax Policy

The Legislature returned from the four-day “turnaround”
break Wednesday with a contentious hearing on teacher bargaining changes and
several other high profile issues.  Next
week’s schedule of hearings is also filling up and we will send a preview shortly.
Teacher Negotiations.  The House Commerce, Labor and Economic
Development Committee began a hearing on HB
2027
, which makes changes to the Professional Negotiations Act recommended
by KASB and the Kansas School Superintendents Association.  Most significantly, the bill would narrow the
list of items which are “mandatorily” negotiable under current law.  KASB and KSSA testified that the purpose of
the bill is to give local boards and administrators more flexibility in areas
such as teacher evaluation, discipline, attire and reduction in force, while
maintaining the right of teachers to collectively bargain over compensation, amount
of time worked and other “permissively” negotiated items.
KASB recommended several amendments yesterday to make clear boards
must continue to negotiate with a single bargaining association for
teachers.  The bill also gives boards more
authority to provide additional compensation based on teacher performance or
shortage areas.
The history of this bill began earlier this session with HB 2085.  KASB testified in support of some provisions
that that bill, but did not support parts that would have made collective
bargaining optional.  The new bill was
drafted based on long-standing KASB policy positions on collective bargaining
and a survey of school administrators. 
The KSSA Board of Directors voted unanimously to support the bill.  However, it is strongly opposed by the Kansas
National Education Association.  KNEA
testified that the current system works well, that boards already have the
authority to adopt “unilateral” contracts if they are not satisfied with
negotiations, and that the new bill removes the teachers’ voice within districts.
The hearing will continue on Friday.  School leaders are strongly encouraged to
communicate their views on this issue to members of the House Commerce
Committee and to their State Representatives.
Concealed Carry.  The House Federal and State Affairs Committee
voted yesterday to recommend HB 2055
after adding an amendment giving school boards specific authority to allow
employees to have handguns in school buildings. 
The measure also applied to colleges. 
KASB believes that school districts essentially have this authority
under current law, and the amendment does not require boards to adopt such a
policy.  Other parts of the bill require
most public building to allow concealed weapons to be carried if they are do
not provide security measures at all entrances. 
Although the final amended version of the bill is not available, that
provision does not appear to apply to school districts.
Common Core.  The House Education Committee held a lengthy
discussion on the issue of the Common Core academic standards yesterday.  A bill to prohibit the state and school
districts from implementing the new standards, HB 2289, remains in committee but is not an exempt bill.  A briefing was held earlier this session, but
no formal hearings have been scheduled on the issue.  Discussion on the same topic continues
today.  The committee is scheduled to
meet Friday, but no agenda has been announced.
Action Scheduled
Today (Thursday, March 7)

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to debate virtually
identical bills, SB 176 and HB 2319.  Both bills establish a process for up to 10
districts to be designed “innovative districts,” which would allow them to be
exempted from most state school laws and regulations in exchange for higher student
performance and completion standards.  KASB
is supports the measures under the goal of establishing higher student completion
standards and allowing more local authority for innovation.  Two school districts which have received
waivers from the No Child Left Behind Act, Kansas City and McPherson, also
testified in support.  The Kansas
National Education Association was opposed the bills because school boards
could (but re not required to) exempt themselves from laws dealing with teachers,
such as collective bargaining and teacher due process or tenure.  The United School Administrators was neutral.
The Senate Education Committee holds a hearing on SB 196, which would allow the Board of
Education, Board of Regents, public and private postsecondary institutions,
cities and counties to “authorize” public charter schools that would be
independent of local school boards and exempt from most state laws and
regulations.  KASB will testify against
the bill on two grounds.  First, the
Kansas Constitution requires that all public schools are to be under the
general supervision of the State Board of Education, and maintained, developed and
operated by locally elected boards. 
Second, there is no evidence that states with more expansive charter
school laws have better student achievement; in fact, the opposite tends to be
true.
The House Taxation Committee is expected to take final
action on HB 2285, which changes the
definition of machinery and equipment for purposes of taxation.  As introduced, the bill would significantly reduce
the valuation of commercial and industrial property in certain counties.  KASB opposes the bill for the following
reasons:
·        
The bill would reduce revenues from the statewide
mill levy for schools, requiring either additional state funding or reducing
the base budget per pupil.
·        
The bill would make certain districts much less
wealthy in terms of assessed valuation per pupil.  This would make them eligible for more state
local option budget aid, but because the LOB aid program is already over $90
million underfunded, funding would be reallocated among all districts receiving
LOB state aid.
·        
The bill would reduce revenues from capital outlay
levies, especially in those districts where the new definition would have the
greatest impact.
The exact fiscal impact of the bill would not be known until
the affected property is reappraised.