Education leaders urged to contact members of House-Senate conference committee on SB 16

School leaders are urged to contact members of the House-Senate conference committee on SB 16 to respond to questions from committee members, who remained far apart Monday after three meetings.  

In fact, the committee is somewhat divided on what it should even be discussing, because the House heavily amended SB 16 to include numerous education policy provisions but never passed a bill with actual school funding appropriations or a response to the Gannon lawsuit. 

The Senate, on the other hand, passed SB 142, adopting an inflation adjustment to last year’s school funding bill in response to the Kansas Supreme Court. That bill, approved by the Senate on a bipartisan 32-8 vote, contained increases in base per pupil funding recommended by the State Board of Education and Gov. Laura Kelly. 

House K-12 Education Budget Committee Chair Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, said a major concern for the House was ensuring that additional funding would be targeted to address the 25 percent or more of students identified by the Supreme Court as failing, based primarily on state tests. She asked how school districts would spend additional funds. 

KASB has testified that school leaders have identified four priorities for improving student success: (1) raising salaries to be competitive with other states and employers to attract and retain quality staff, (2) programs to address underperforming students, such as early childhood, special education and at-risk programs, (3) improving student health and safety, and (4) improving college and career readiness. 

Over 100 districts also responded to a KASB survey about how they have used their new funding so far. Here is a link. 

School leaders are encouraged to share examples of how they are addressing student needs, especially for low performing students, with members of the committee and their own Legislators. 

In addition, Senate Education Finance Chair Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, was seeking input from school districts about how various aspects of House passed-provisions would impact them. These include: 

Requiring districts to provide transportation to students living less than 2.5 miles from school if there was not a safe route and it would not increase costs. 

New financial reporting requirements. 

Implementing a new bullying prevention hotline, modeled after the current school safety hotline. 

Exempting repair and remodeling projects from the state bond cap. 

Below are the names and email addresses of the six conference committee members. Education leaders are urged to contact them and tell them how they feel about the House-passed policy provisions in SB 16 and what their schools have accomplished with the recent increases in funding. 

Rep. Kristey Williams, R-Augusta,

Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater,

Rep. Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City,

Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg,

Sen. Jim Denning, R-Overland Park,

Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka,

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