Kansas Legislature

State Board of Education clamps down on e-cigs, vaping

The State Board of Education on Tuesday approved a policy aimed at prohibiting at school the use of e-cigarettes by students, school staff and visitors. The policy forwarded to Kansas school districts expands prohibitions on tobacco products to e-cigs, vape pens and any other electronic products that can deliver nicotine. Schools across the nation and Kansas have reported an explosive increase in vaping among students from elementary to high school. Deaths and serious health problems have been associated with vaping as has an increase in addiction problems. Nationwide, lung injuries associated with vaping have resulted in 48 deaths in 25 states and...

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Audit raises issues in at-risk funding; KSDE defends practices

The Kansas Legislative Post Audit Division released a report Monday criticizing the State Department of Education’s oversight and guidance of the state’s $413 million program to support academically at-risk students. KSDE strongly disagreed.  The audit is one of series of studies commissioned by the Kansas Legislature in response to the Gannon school finance case. At-risk funding is particularly important because a key part of the Gannon case was that too many Kansas students are failing to meet state academic standards.  In addition, the “high density” at-risk weighting factor, which accounts for about $50 million in at-risk aid targeted at districts with higher...

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State Board of Education taking up vaping regulations, anti-bullying recommendations

Two major challenges facing public schools will be worked on Tuesday by the State Board of Education. The State Board will act on recommendations from the E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force and receive recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying. Here is a link to the board’s agenda and backup documents. The board meeting will be streamed live at this link. The vaping discussion is expected to start around 11:25 a.m. and the bullying discussion at 2:10 p.m. After the board meeting, KASB will conduct a video interview with the bullying task force co-chairs — Dr. Rick Ginsberg, dean of the College...

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KASB conference concludes with officers elected, legislative report approved

Delegates at the 102nd annual KASB Conference on Sunday elected officers and approved a legislative report that will guide KASB advocacy efforts for 2020.  The actions, along with inspiring words from Chad Foster, who overcame blindness as a young man, concluded the conference in which more than 500 education leaders from across Kansas, met, learned, shared and discussed major education issues facing Kansas during more than 40 breakout sessions, workshops, school visits and a vendor show.  In addition, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson; Tim Hodges, director of research at Gallup polling; KASB President Shannon Kimball, Lawrence USD 497, and KASB Executive...

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Governor’s Council on Tax Reform readies initial recommendations for upcoming legislative session

The Governor’s Council on Tax Reform on Tuesday recommended ways to expand the tax base and reinstate a food sales tax rebate for low-income Kansans.  The council’s recommendations will go to Gov. Laura Kelly in preparation for the 2020 legislative session, which starts Jan. 13, and then the council will continue working on further tax reform for the 2021 session.  On Tuesday, the tax council voted to support a mix of recommendations related to discussions members had been having throughout the fall. The first recommendation adopted was to support proposed legislation on collecting taxes for online sales through Marketplace Facilitators. This recommendation...

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Education advocates urged to participate in upcoming economic town hall meetings

Education advocates are urged to participate in a series of town hall meetings next week that are focused on gathering public input on economic development. The Kansas Framework for Growth meetings were announced by Commerce Secretary David Toland as part of the economic planning process that had been kicked off earlier this year by Gov. Laura Kelly. “We’ve been very deliberate in engaging businesses and community partners in this process, and we’ve had great participation so far,” Toland said. “Now, we’re really looking forward to hearing more from the public about what they believe are our biggest opportunities and how we...

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Kansas Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying finalizes report

The Kansas Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying on Monday finalized its report, offering a wide range of recommendations aimed at helping schools reduce bullying. The report says schools should provide a safe and caring environment and that anti-bullying plans must address the differing needs of staff and students identified by sex, gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religious faith and socio-economic status. The task force also recommends new resources of funding for more mental health workers in schools. The task force’s work will be presented to the State Board of Education on Dec. 10 and then later...

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KSDE offering schools new suicide prevention toolkit

The Kansas State Department of Education is offering a new suicide prevention toolkit to help schools. The toolkit contains information that schools can use to coordinate the development of a plan that fits the needs of their specific communities. The Kansas Suicide Prevention, Response and Postvention Toolkit is a comprehensive guide that provides step-by-step guidance for setting up a systematic approach to suicide prevention, response and postvention. The fillable word documents contain essential forms found in the toolkit. These forms can be downloaded for easy access and use by the appropriate school personnel. These documents can be accessed at this link.

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Updated school funding estimates cut costs to state

The school finance formula adopted in response to the Gannon lawsuit will cost the state less than expected over the next several years, according to new estimates from the Kansas Department of Education, Division of Budget and Legislative Research Department.  In a memo presented Tuesday to the Legislative Budget Committee, KLRD staff say they now believe the major K-12 state aid programs will need $32.9 million less in the current year than projected last Spring, and $32.6 million less next year.  The State Board of Education has recommended that any savings in formula be used to increase special education state aid,...

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Short-term student achievement levels show mixed results

Although Kansas long-term educational attainment (adult high school completion, postsecondary participation and four-year college degrees) has continued to increase, shorter term measures like grade-level assessments have been distinctly mixed.  Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson has been briefing the State Board of Education on these results, and with Board Chair Kathy Bush, recorded this video on performance results for KASB.  In brief: state reading and math assessments are basically flat for the past two years after several years of decline, but national tests of a sample of Kansas students are down. ACT college readiness scores are down, but more students are taking...

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