KASB’s Daily Education Roundup for Mon. Feb. 11

With key legislative deadlines approaching, the bill hopper is hopping and legislative hearings are piling up. 

On Monday, the Senate Education Committee considered SB 128, which would recalibrate the number of safety drills that schools must have and the House K-12 Education Budget Committee held an informational hearing on Gov. Laura Kelly’s school finance plan. 

Prior to 2018, schools had to conduct one fire drill per month and three tornado drills per year. Then the Legislature adopted a one-year measure that requires nine crisis drills, four fire drills and three tornado drills for the 2018-19 school year. SB 128 would require four fire drills, three crisis drills and two tornado drills per year. 

Numerous school groups, including KASB, support the bill, saying that this year’s total of 16 drills, including the nine crisis drills, which focused on intruder alerts, was taking away from instruction time and causing anxiety among some younger students.  

The committee took no action on the measure. A Facebook Live discussion of the legislation can be viewed here with G.A. Buie, executive director of the United School Administrators of Kansas and the Kansas School Superintendents Association, and Leah Fliter, KASB’s Advocacy and Outreach Specialist. 

Gov. Kelly’s school finance plan would provide roughly $360 million over four years and is aimed at settling the long-running school finance lawsuit by providing the inflation adjustment cited by the Kansas Supreme Court and plaintiff school districts. But in a review of the bill, the K-12 committee learned that Kelly’s budget doesn’t contain funding for several programs that have become popular within the Legislature. 

For the fiscal year starting July 1, the governor’s proposed budget doesn’t include state general funding for School Safety and Security Grants, the Kansas Reading Success and Teach for America. The committee gave no indication on when it would work on the education budget. 

Several other school finance bills have been introduced, although their details are not yet known. One measure – HB 2233 – would require school boards to provide a $500 stipend for each teacher in the district.

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