SB 7 advanced by committeeScott Rothschild
SB 7, which changes the statutory date for the election of school board officers, was approved with an amendment Thursday by the Senate Ethics, Elections and Local Government Committee. The amended bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. KASB is neutral on the bill.
SB 7 was introduced by Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, to rectify an unintended consequence of a 2015 law that changed the date for school board and city commission elections from April of odd-numbered years to November of even-numbered years. That law did not, however, amend the existing statute requiring school boards to elect board officers in July of each year. The resulting gap between board elections in November, new boards taking office in January and the required July leadership election was problematic for some boards but not all. Hawk’s bill says boards may elect their leaders in January or at a later time to be determined by the board.
Because KASB does not have legislative policy on the date for election of board officers, President Patrick Woods testified as neutral on the bill and supported the bill’s nod to local control. Representatives of the Shawnee Mission and Manhattan-Ogden school districts testified in favor of the bill and also supported the local control option.
The Wichita school district requested an amendment allowing it to send any changes in its voting plan to the local voters at a primary, general or special election. Currently, some USD 259 board members are elected at-large, while others represent a specific geographic area in the school district. Any changes to that plan must be approved by the voters. The amendment gives the district additional options for that approval.
The committee accepted the Wichita amendment and sent the bill to the full Senate for consideration. If it passes the Senate, the bill will be sent to a House committee for discussion.