Kansas Legislature

Legislation aimed at reducing youth vaping almost ready

Health and education advocates say they are close to unveiling state legislation that would increase the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Similar laws — called Tobacco 21 — have been passed in 18 states and Washington D.C. Sarah Prem, advocacy specialist with the Kansas and Greater Kansas City American Lung Association, said tobacco-free groups are refining the legislation, recruiting sponsors and planning an education and communication campaign. “We want to construct that big tent,” she said. The 2020 legislative session starts in January. The proposed legislation has picked up momentum in recent months...

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Dyslexia recommendations before State Board of Education

A wide range of recommendations are before the State Board of Education to address students with dyslexia. “We are already doing a lot of good things; we just have to be more strategic,” State Board Chairwoman Kathy Busch said. Several other board members said the proposed changes are substantial, will require more work for educators and additional funding but are necessary. “We have to catch kids before they fail,” Board member Jim Porter said. The recommendations were recently outlined by Cindy Hadicke, who is an education program consultant at the Kansas State Department of Education and chaired a committee that evaluated the work...

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Governor’s Council on Tax Reform continues to study a broad range of issues 

A look back at tax policy adopted during the 2019 Legislative session was a big focus of the second meeting of the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform this week. SB 22 which was passed by both chambers of the Legislature but ultimately vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly had many different elements with varying degrees of impact on Kansas taxpayers.  The Council had an opportunity to walk through each piece of the legislation to better understand what the proposal was as well as to hear information on how those changes would have affected taxpayers in different situations. Dr. Donna Ginther, from...

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State has numerous initiatives aimed at helping student mental health

State officials are working on several fronts to address the mental health needs of Kansas students. More than 1,700 students received help last year through the school Mental Health Intervention Program. Most of those students showed improvements in attendance, behavior and academics, Diane Gjerstad, who has been helping with implementation of the program, told the School Mental Health Advisory Council on Thursday. The program initially included nine school districts in partnership with Community Mental Health Centers. But it has since been expanded with a second year of funding from the Legislature to 180 schools in 32 districts. The council also received an update...

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50 years ago, Kansans set up the State Board of Education

In the early days of the Kansas State Board of Education, board members raced to get up to speed on public education issues and were quickly immersed in the politics of the day, according to news articles and minutes of board meetings from the late 1960s. This year represents the 50th anniversary of the board’s existence.   On Nov. 8, 1966, Kansas voters approved a constitutional amendment on education that essentially modernized the state’s education system into what we know today.   The change created an elected State Board of Education, instead of one appointed by the governor, and replaced the Kansas State...

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State Board of Education combines busy agenda with 50th anniversary

At this month’s State Board of Education meeting, the board will observe its 50th anniversary with a history lesson and reception while also conducting business as it has for the past half-century — meeting, discussing and making decisions on a broad range of education policy issues. The State Board meets Tuesday and Wednesday; here is a link to the agenda. Mary Madden, museum and education division director for the Kansas State Historical Society, will present a summary of the State Board’s origins. Following her presentation, there will be a reception to celebrate the anniversary and citizen leadership in public education. The first...

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Key points on education: New resources plus redesigned schools equal student success, supporting a stronger Kansas

KASB is often asked to share key points about education issues. With school board and other local elections this fall and the 2020 Legislative session three months away, here are some ideas to consider for sharing.  The big question school leaders are going to have to answer is: What are you (school districts) doing with the billion-plus dollars you got from the Legislature? That’s the estimated total increase in base aid, local option budget funding and special education from 2017 to 2023, when the response to the Gannon lawsuit is fully implemented. And, it doesn’t include increased funding for KPERS,...

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Advanced Advocacy Training Institute will meet in Maize

KASB’s new Advanced Advocacy Training Institute will conduct its second session Thursday in Maize.  The meeting will include deep dives into bond elections, understanding local school finance efforts, working with advocates and the media.  The Advanced Advocacy Training Institute represents KASB’s newest initiative to develop a network of education advocates throughout Kansas who have a full understanding of issues on the local, state and federal levels.  The objectives of AATI are to establish a network of support for public education; explore initiatives to increase student success; improve advocacy effectiveness and expand the diversity of advocates to participate in legislative and community outreach....

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High-quality, affordable early childhood programs needed in Kansas

In a conference room full of childcare providers, parents, political leaders and state agency officials, a Wichita businessman had the clearest message.  “This is a crisis,” said business leader and philanthropist Barry Downing. “To compete in a global economy, we need more students to get more education and parents to be able to work. That means we need to increase quality and access of early learning, because we are way behind.”  Downing, a panelist at Gov. Laura Kelly’s Symposium on Early Childhood on Monday in Wichita, launched a highly regarded program called The Opportunity Project in 2003, providing funding for high...

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Input received on KASB Fall Regional Roundtables

KASB has heard from education advocates across the state during its just-completed Fall Regional Roundtable meetings. The meetings were designed to increase interaction between school board members and staff and hear from KASB staff on top education issues. The results of the discussions will be forwarded to the KASB Legislative Committee, which will meet again in November to finalize recommendations to the Delegate Assembly at KASB’s annual convention in December in Wichita. The Delegate Assembly will vote on the policy positions that will guide KASB advocacy efforts during the 2020 session. The Regional Roundtable meetings were held in Stafford, Garden City, Topeka,...

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