Kansas Legislature

KCC offers schools new energy efficiency program

The Kansas Corporation Commission is offering a free K-12 education program that teaches students about energy efficiency and could help schools reduce their energy costs. The KCC announced the program as part of Kansas Energy Efficiency Day, which is Wednesday (Oct. 7). The K-12 Benchmarking program offers teachers an all-inclusive energy efficiency curriculum that includes professional equipment and guidance from energy experts – all at no cost to the school. The curriculum meets Next Generation Science Standards and can be adapted for various grades. Participating schools will form an energy team to benchmark and understand the school’s energy use. The next step...

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Legislators hear about federal COVID-19 funds received by school districts

School districts have or are expected to receive at least $154 million in federal aid to address the COVID pandemic, and some additional funding may be coming. There are large differences in how much individual districts received, based on different allocation formulas.  The Legislative Budget Committee recently received reports from the Legislative Research Department, the Kansas State Department of Education and the state Office of Recovery on Wednesday. Additional federal aid of $154 million would represent over 2 percent of total school district expenditures reported last year.  There are ongoing efforts at the federal level to provide additional aid to state...

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Bill averting government shutdown includes funds to extend student meals

President Trump has signed into law a bipartisan bill that will fund government through Dec. 11 and provides additional assistance with school meals. The measure passed in the Senate 84-10 and in the House 359-57. In Kansas’ congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Reps. Sharice Davids and Steve Watkins voted for the measure, while U.S. Rep. Ron Estes voted against it and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall were listed as “not voting.” The bill includes nearly $8 billion in additional nutrition assistance for families and schoolchidlren, including an extension of a pandemic program that provides...

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Starting Anew: For Basehor-Linwood flexibility is key to planning

One recent morning, Basehor-Linwood USD 458 school board President Dayna Miller went to her mailbox and was surprised to see several people in the driveway who wanted to talk with her about reopening school.  She said the conversation was cordial, but Miller said the incident, combined with the deluge of texts and emails she received over the summer, exemplified how the start of this school year has brought out people’s passions like no other issue she has experienced during her 17 years of service on the school board.  “This affects your community, parents and grandparents. This was a big decision and...

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Voting Matters: Deadline approaches to register to vote; mail-in balloting will start soon

In Kansas, there are several ways to cast a ballot in the upcoming election. You can either vote by mail, or vote early in person or you can vote in person at your polling place on Election Day, which is Nov. 3. But you can’t vote if you’re not registered to vote. If you are not already registered to vote, you have until Oct. 13 to do so. If you need to register, would like to confirm you are registered, or want to request a mail-in ballot, you can go to www.ksvotes.org, which is a non-partisan non-profit organization. The state also...

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Federal judge throws out early Census deadline

A federal judge has rejected a Trump Administration effort to end the 2020 Census a month early. The Administration announced in August it was moving the national count deadline up one month to September 30 to give the government time to deliver the 2020 data to the President by the end of December as required by law. The Census has been plagued by delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires and hurricanes, and political conflict. Judge Lucy H. Koh said late Thursday the scheduled completion date of October 31 should stand. She also directed the final count be delivered by April...

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Foster Care Committee continues work

In a wide-ranging discussion after two days of testimony, members of the Special Committee on Foster Care spoke about either changes that they would like the committee to recommend to the Legislature or issues they would like to study further. No votes on any specific recommendations were made. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 20-21. State Sen. Ed Berger, R-Hutchinson, said the state needs to address reoccurring issues, such as complaints that foster children are moved too often and their school records often don’t follow them when they enroll in a new school. State Rep. Jarrod Ousley, D-Merriam, said he...

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Kelly applauds school leaders during initial `Women Connecting With Women’

Gov. Laura Kelly on Tuesday applauded female education leaders for their hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic and urged them to “hang tough” in the face of criticism as the new K-12 year brings numerous changes in school operations because of the virus.  Kelly’s comments came during the first “Women Connecting With Women” workshop, a collaboration of KASB and USA-Kansas that focuses on women in leadership and drew more than 100 people on zoom from across the state.   Kelly said school board members, administrators and teachers are dealing with the worst public health crisis in a century “but you have faced...

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School issues before legislative interim committees this week

Several interim legislative committees meeting this week are discussing issues that could have an impact on school districts.  Today and tomorrow (Tue. and Wed. Sept. 22-23), the Special Committee on Foster Care Oversight continues its study of the child welfare system, with presentations Tuesday afternoon on barriers to inter-agency communications in child welfare, including Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis, among others. Sharing education records for children in foster care has been a long-stranding issue. Here is a link to the full agenda.  Today through Thursday (Sept. 22-24), the Special Committee on the Kansas Emergency Management Act meets for presentations and development of...

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COVID-19 testing, remote learning capabilities to receive boost

Gov. Laura Kelly and legislative leaders Thursday approved about $290 million in COVID-related spending, including $40 million for child supervision and remote learning. The unanimous decision by the State Finance Council represented the final installment of approximately $1 billion in federal CARES Act funding. In two earlier rounds, $400 million went to counties for COVID-19 expenses and $314 toward statewide priorities, including broadband connectivity and early childhood support. The biggest ticket item in Thursday’s action was $50 million to expand COVID-19 testing. Kelly and others said the expansion is needed to protect the public health and provide a truer assessment of...

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