Kansas Legislature

Opponents, proponents of SB 16 continue the debate

SB 16 is now before the Kansas Supreme Court, but the debate continues over the new school finance law in the court of public opinion.  During the legislative break, legislators who opposed SB 16 are criticizing it in writing and legislative forums while education advocates who supported the bill are pushing back.  The most notable political confrontation was prompted by House Speaker Ron Ryckman’s opinion piece, which ran in several media outlets.   In the piece, Ryckman, R-Olathe, says the K-12 inflation adjustment approved by Gov. Laura Kelly and bi-partisan majorities in the House and Senate was unsustainable and will lead to tax [...]

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Kansas Supreme Court denies request from State Board of Education to file brief in Gannon case

The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday denied an application from the State Board of Education to file an amicus legal brief supporting the funding portion of SB 16 in the Gannon school finance lawsuit. The court noted such applications must be made 30 days before oral arguments in the case, which is scheduled for May 9. The board submitted the application Thursday, saying it didn’t have a chance to decide to seek application until its monthly meeting on Tuesday. The court denied a similar request from Gov. Laura Kelly for the same reason. The funding plan eventually adopted by the Legislature [...]

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Little change in new revenue estimate; Kelly urges caution

In perhaps the most steady revenue estimate in more than a decade, Kansas legislators will see little change in state finances when they return to write a budget on May 1. For school finance, nothing has changed based on the new Consensus Revenue Estimate released Thursday. Prior to the session break, legislators and Gov. Laura Kelly approved a $90 million K-12 increase for an inflation adjustment called for by the Kansas Supreme Court. The measure is now before the court with plaintiff school districts saying it falls about $270 million short of what is needed for schools. A decision on the new [...]

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State Board of Education wants to tell Kansas Supreme Court to approve funding portion of SB 16

The State Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously voted to seek to file a friend of the court legal brief supporting the school funding portion of SB 16 that is before the Kansas Supreme Court. “This is our plan,” said State Board member Jim Porter, a Republican from Fredonia. “Both the House and Senate and governor have adopted our plan and that is historic,” he said. Ann Mah, a Democratic board member from Topeka, said the funding portion of SB 16 has met the Kansas Supreme Court’s requirements and the board would like to see the litigation ended. The board voted 10-0 [...]

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State asks Kansas Supreme Court to dismiss Gannon school finance lawsuit; plaintiff districts say new law still falls short

The Gannon lawsuit may come down to math. On Monday, the State of Kansas asked the Kansas Supreme Court to accept SB 16 as an adequate response to the long-running Gannon school finance litigation and dismiss the case. But the plaintiff school districts say the new law still falls short and have urged the court to order the Legislature to try again. While SB 16 adds approximately $90 million in response to the court’s last Gannon decision and sustains that for the next four years, the plaintiffs say the court wants an additional $90 million added on top each of the [...]

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State Education Department releases information on district impact of school law

The Kansas State Department of Education has posted a printout showing the estimated impact of the new school finance act on school district funding next year.  The combination of a higher base state aid amount and additional special education state aid is expected to add $194 million to school district budgets next year.  Here are links to the spreadsheet showing the estimated change for each school district and explanation of the spreadsheet columns. Here is a link to the KSDE page that has the district-by-district information and other school finance information. These increases in school district operating funds are not the only [...]

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Gov. Kelly signs into law SB 128, requiring nine safety drills per school year

Gov. Laura Kelly has signed into law SB 128, which requires schools conduct at least nine safety drills per year. Last year, the Legislature adopted a budget proviso that required 16 drills, including nine crisis or lockdown drills. Educators said 16 drills, which amounted to one every couple of weeks, took away too much instruction time and frightened some students. SB 128 was supported by KASB and other educators as a more reasonable approach. The nine drills includes four fire, three crisis and two tornado drills each school year.

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Gov. Kelly, others vow to improve early childhood education opportunities

Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday urged early childhood advocates and others to aim higher as the Kansas Children’s Cabinet works under new leadership. Kelly said policymakers have learned a lot about the importance of early childhood education over the past 20 years, since the Children’s Cabinet was first formed to oversee the use of expenditures from the Master Tobacco Settlement to improve the well-being of Kansas youth. “Everyone in this room understands that education begins the moment you are born,” Kelly said. Kelly said childhood programs were among many areas of state government that suffered after the 2012 tax cuts championed by [...]

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What are the Kansas Supreme Court’s options in the school finance case?

Will the new school finance plan end in a dismissal of the long running Gannon lawsuit or will litigation and political fighting continue?  The answer to that question now lies with the Kansas Supreme Court after the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly took action in putting a new funding plan into law.  William Rich, constitutional law professor at Washburn University, said Monday the state’s highest court has several options.  The court could decide the new law addresses equity and adequacy and then probably dismiss the lawsuit.   If the court says the new legislation falls short, it will likely do what it has done [...]

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KASB Live summary of SB 16

Passage of SB 16 sends school finance response to the Governor, who is expected to sign; then on to the Kansas Supreme Court.  Also passed this week:  SB 130 – board elections   School Bus Tax  Budget “Mega Bill” - expected action today  SB 16 – What is in (Kansas Legislative Research Department summary):  KSEEA Amendments  The bill would make several amendments to the KSEEA, as follows.  Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE)  The bill would amend the BASE for school years (SY) 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023. The following table shows the BASE under current law and what the BASE would be under the bill.  BASE AID FOR STUDENT [...]

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