Kansas Legislature

Official touts school mental health program

The school Mental Health Intervention Program approved by the Legislature in 2018 received high praise this week. Kathy Mosher, executive director of the Central Kansas Mental Health Center, said the program — linking schools and community mental health centers — has helped students and communities. “What an ingenious idea,” Mosher told the Legislative Budget Committee on Wednesday. “There is a lot of good coming out of that.” Because of the program, Mosher’s organization has been able to expand services to ensure students receive mental health help close to home, so they don’t miss school, she said. Of the students receiving assistance, the...

Read more...

Committee recommends constitutional amendment on abortion; more study of judicial selection system

After two days of public hearings, it is apparent the Kansas Supreme Court and some of its recent rulings will be under the legislative microscope during the 2020 session that starts in January. The Special Committee on Judiciary recommended the Legislature continue studying whether changes should be made in the way justices are selected to the Kansas Supreme Court. Changes to the judicial selection process could affect school finance. And the committee recommended Kansas voters should be given the opportunity to change the state constitutional right of abortion. Some legislators are angry over a ruling by the court in April, blocking a...

Read more...

Requests for school security funds far outstrip availability of funds

For the second year of the existence of a school security grant program, requests for funding have far exceeded the amount of money available. Requests from districts for Safe and Secure Schools State Aid Grants totaled $12.85 million. The Legislature this year approved $5 million in funding, the same amount it approved in 2018 when schools applied for more than $19 million. Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis told the Legislative Budget Committee on Wednesday that education officials worked quickly to get the grants to the schools. “We consider this very important that we don’t delay the process,” Dennis said. A total of 169...

Read more...

October issue of KASB School Board Review is available

Articles on education equity, the effect of social media on our students, the school bond environment, KASB’s upcoming annual conference and more are featured in the October issue of School Board Review, which is available online here. This month’s publication includes the final installment of KASB Associate Executive Director of Advocacy and Communications Mark Tallman’s analysis of equity in student success. KASB Executive Director John Heim writes about how young people today face challenges their parents didn’t — namely that their exploits are recorded forever in the digital world. KASB’s Rob Gilligan, government relations specialist, analyzes opportunities to reinvest in school...

Read more...

Committee hearing proposals to change the way Kansas Supreme Court justices are selected

A move in the Legislature that could affect school finance by changing the way Kansas Supreme Court justices are selected was aired out Tuesday before a special legislative committee. The 2019 Special Committee on Judiciary will continue meeting Wednesday for discussion and recommendations for the 2020 Legislature, which starts its session in January.  Kansas Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor from a list of three candidates submitted by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission. That non-partisan Nominating Commission includes nine members, five of whom are appointed by Kansas lawyers and four by the governor. Justices on the court are...

Read more...

Officials from Medicaid expansion states tout program

Education advocates have recently been discussing whether to support Medicaid expansion because of its potential impact on the health of students and their families. On Monday, officials from two Republican-dominated states that have expanded Medicaid told Kansas officials that expansion has helped their states in numerous ways.  The officials from Ohio and Montana spoke to Gov. Laura Kelly’s appointed council that is working on guiding principles for a Medicaid expansion bill for the 2020 legislative session, which starts in January. Kelly, a Democrat, supports expanding Medicaid health care coverage to as many as 150,000 more Kansans, but was thwarted in...

Read more...

Meetings this week that school advocates should monitor

Several important meetings are occurring this week that will help guide education in Kansas. KASB is wrapping up its 2019 Fall Regional Roundtable meetings Tuesday in McPherson and Greenbush and Wednesday in Beloit and Haysville. The meetings start at 5:30 p.m. and will go no longer than three hours. School board members will have the opportunity to share information with their peers while also providing input for KASB’s agenda in the 2020 legislative session. The meetings are structured in a way to encourage more interaction among board members while providing local advocates the opportunity to discuss issues with KASB staff. They also...

Read more...

Economist warns Tax Council of fiscal challenges

A University of Kansas economist consulting with Gov. Laura Kelly’s Tax Reform Council said Wednesday Kansas faces major economic headwinds as the council seeks to improve the state’s tax structure.  Donna K. Ginther, Professor of Economics and Interim Director, Institute for Policy & Social Research at KU, said over the past decade, Kansas payroll employment grew at only half the rate of the United States as a whole, and the Kansas labor force (those working and those looking for work) has actually shrunk, unlike other states in the 10th Federal Reserve Bank district (Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico...

Read more...

Percentage of students who say they have been bullied at school has decreased slightly

A survey of Kansas students shows incidents of bullying at school have slightly decreased, but more students feel unsafe at school while officials said the state would benefit by a more comprehensive survey method. The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying on Wednesday received updated results from the Kansas Communities That Care student survey. The survey is taken on a volunteer basis by students in sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades and tracks use of harmful substances and anti-social behaviors. In 2018, 30.7 percent of sixth-graders said they were bullied at school at least once. That dropped to 28.6 percent in...

Read more...

Tax reform council begins work with sobering budget projections

Gov. Laura Kelly’s Tax Reform Council convened its first meeting Tuesday with deep background briefings on state sales and income tax policies, budget projections, and economic updates. One highlight: current budget trends and modest forecasts in state revenue growth show a $482.5 million state general fund deficit in FY 2022-23, a shortfall of 5.8 percent.  The council will continue meeting Wednesday, and October, November and December before submitting an interim report to the 2020 Kansas Legislature. It is expected to pick up work next summer to prepare a final report to the 2021 Legislature. That work will take place during...

Read more...