KASB Daily Education Roundup, Wed. March 13Scott Rothschild
House Republican leaders on Wednesday fast-tracked a newly revealed school finance plan that KASB and other education groups will oppose.
“We think it would actually move us farther away from resolving the Gannon lawsuit,” said KASB Associate Executive Director Mark Tallman.
House K-12 Education Budget Committee Chair Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, made HB 2395 public on Tuesday, held an informational hearing on the 81-page bill Wednesday and scheduled a public hearing for Thursday with testimony from opponents due by 10 a.m. Thursday.
Williams said the public hearing will continue Monday and that the committee will start working on the bill Tuesday with final action scheduled no later than Thursday and possibly earlier.
The bill contains provisions from several other bills, such as allowing students who are bullied to go to another public school or get a state-paid voucher to attend a private school.
The bill provides approximately $90 million in additional funds for each of the next two years but repeals additional funds in the final years of the five-year K-12 funding plan that was approved last year. It also leaves out an annual inflation adjustment after that five-year plan expires.
“As you are hearing about these provisions, look at how they affect your district, talk to your legislators,” Tallman urged school leaders.
KASB will testify against the bill. Tallman said the best route for the Legislature is ” … stick with the five-year plan, which we’re now one year into, adopt the recommended inflation adjustment so that we can go to the court and say we’ve met the requirements. Let’s lock in funding for the next four years, and move on.”
In related education news, the Senate is scheduled Thursday to take up a school finance bill — SB 142 — which would add $92 million in the fiscal year that starts July 1 and $89 million in the fiscal year after that. That’s on top of increases enacted in 2018. Also before the Senate is SB 22, which would cut taxes by approximately $200 million in the next fiscal year, thus making it more difficult to fund schools and other state services in need of additional revenue. If the Senate approves the House-amended version of the bill, it would then go to Gov. Laura Kelly for her consideration.