KASB Daily Education Roundup, Mon. Feb. 10

A House committee Monday recommended approval of a bill that would expand a program that gives tax credits to send students to private religious schools.

The K-12 Education Budget Committee forwarded HB 2465 to the full House on an 8-5 vote. KASB and numerous education advocacy groups opposed the measure, while Catholic and other private schools supported it.

“Should the state encourage investment in a tax-credit program that most students can’t access? Should the state forego tax revenue in order to support religious schools that are not required to accept all students? And should Kansas tacitly encourage the segregation of low-performing, poor students into its public schools by encouraging other students to leave for private, religious schools? We believe the answer to these questions is no,” KASB Advocacy and Outreach Specialist Leah Fliter had testified. Here is a link to her testimony.

Current Kansas law allows individuals and corporations to make donations to “scholarship-granting organizations” that provide scholarships for private-school tuition to free-lunch eligible students who also attend the state’s 100 lowest-performing elementary schools with respect to student achievement. Donors receive a tax credit. HB 2465 would open the program up to all public schools and include students who are eligible for reduced-price meals in addition to free-meal students.

The K-12 committee also held a public hearing on HB 2540, which would put new requirements on schools in their use of at-risk funds. Here is a link to KASB’s testimony opposing this bill.

In other business:

— The House Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee approved HB 2507, which deals with liability in work-based learning programs.

— The House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on HB 2532, which would authorize the Kansas State Department of Education to contract with a vendor to install and operate school bus cameras.

— The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing on SB 335, which would authorize school districts to pay the tuition of a student’s dual enrollment in a post-secondary institution. KASB supports this bill. Here is a link to testimony.

— The House Education Committee held a public hearing on HB 2572, which would create the educator protection act to provide excess professional liability insurance coverage for teachers.

A Facebook Live recap of the day’s events can be seen here.

On Tuesday, a hearing is scheduled before the House Education Committee on HB 2573, which would require students pass an American civics test to graduate high school. KASB opposes this bill.

On Thursday, there is a public hearing before House Federal and State Affairs on HB 2563, increasing the minimum age to purchase or posses cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21 and prohibiting certain flavored vaping products. Also on Thursday, there is scheduled a discussion on mandatory vaccines for K-12 students in House Education Committee and a public hearing before House K-12 Education Budget on HB 2552, which would set up a voucher program for students who score at the lowest level on the state reading test to use state funds to go to a private school or have state funds directed to evidence-based reading programs approved by the student’s parent for the student.

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