KASB dues and lobbyingScott Rothschild
The Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit (LPA) recently sent all local units of government, including school districts, a survey requesting information about the amount of money spent on membership dues to associations that lobby, or for paying lobbyists.
KASB does engage in lobbying, so members should report the amount they paid to KASB in annual membership dues. We have received questions about how much of KASB dues goes to lobbying activities.
First, lobbying is defined in Kansas state law as promoting or opposing in any manner action or nonaction by (1) the legislature on any legislative matter, (2) any executive agency on any executive administrative matter and (3) any judicial agency on any judicial administrative matter; and certain entertainment and gifts to state officers and employees. In some cases, individuals are required to register with the state as lobbyists.
KASB takes positions promoting or opposing specific legislative and executive actions based on policies adopted by KASB members at our Delegate Assembly, or if the DA has not taken a position, the Board of Directors. We communicate those positions through testimony, communication with individual policy makers and encouraging members to express their positions.
KASB lobbyists file expenditure reports as required by state law, including expenditures for entertainment and communications. Except for KASB’s annual reception for legislators, those expenditures are usually under the $100 reporting threshold or “zero.” KASB lobbyists also report an estimated percentage of salary received for lobbying activities. Those reports are available to the public.
However, a majority of KASB’s advocacy or governmental relations activities do not fit this definition of lobbying. KASB staff spend more time observing, analyzing and reporting on activities of the Legislature, State Board of Education, the Governor’s office and other executive branch agencies. This helps our members know and understand how these activities will affect their districts so they can carry out their duties to lead local public schools. It also helps them advocate for or discuss these issues with their locally elected state and federal representatives and senators themselves if they choose to do so.
In addition, the advocacy department conducts research on educational issues, responds to requests for information by the Legislature or other parts of government, and often testifies as neutral to provide general information.
Staff members regularly attended legislative sessions and committee meetings and work at “promoting or opposing” legislative action, such as testifying as proponents or opponents of bills, preparing communications urging legislative action, and assisting in the development of the association’s policy positions. Most of their time is not spent on direct lobbying, but on daily review of legislative bills and communication about legislative “news,” general research on issues, producing reports, articles or videos about education issues, and other projects.
What else do KASB members receive for their membership dues or for charges for specific services or programs?
Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
Like all organizations, school districts have faced unprecedented challenges due to the Coronavirus pandemic. KASB has responded with these steps to support our members.
KASB worked closely with the Kansas State Department of Education, United School Administrators, Kansas School Superintendents Association and Kansas National Education Association to promote a common understanding of issues facing school districts and transitioning to continuous learning plans for students while schools are mostly closed for in-person classes.
KASB legal, leadership services and risk management staff have provided weekly online meetings for school board clerks, business officials and human resource staff on conducting board meetings that comply with open meeting requirements, dealing with new federal and state laws on leave, payment and other benefits, and other legal and management issues.
KASB legal staff are providing a weekly online meeting for the Kansas School Attorneys Association.
KASB staff have published new documents and online video resources on emergency paid sick leave and family leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, student data privacy requirements in federal and state law for continuous learning plans; special education requirements under continuous learning plans; guidance for districts under the Professional Negotiations Act and using Memoranda of Understanding to address changes in teacher contract expectations under the continuous plans; new regulations for the Kansas Open Meetings Act; and sample resolutions concerning graduation requirements and paying staff.
KASB conducted special online sessions for school board presidents, vice presidents and superintendents during the first weeks of the pandemic to address new requirements and questions; and transitioned Spring regional meetings to online forums on continuous learning plans and local response to pandemic. KASB has launched a new weekly “lunch and learn” series of online interactive meetings for board members to share information.
KASB has transitioned its annual day long Human Resources Academy to a series of video presentations, interactive sessions and one-on-one consultations.
KASB has provided daily email updates promoting and summarizing these events and resources; published an online only issue of its monthly School Board Review magazine on the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to provide ongoing coverage of state and federal news.
KASB worked with other education organizations to develop a list of priorities for federal action to support K-12 education as Congress continues additional steps in response to the pandemic.
While responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, KASB has maintained ongoing functions as required while closing the KASB office in response to state and local stay at home orders. These are services KASB provides year-round.
KASB Leadership Services provides training for new school board members and boards, strategic planning and goal setting, and leadership development. KASB assists with a large majority of superintendent searches in the state each year.
KASB conducted over 70 onsite services for boards, superintendents and staff last year. Topics included basics of school board service, threat assessment and school safety, facility studies and bond elections, human resources, transportation, staffing levels studies, and site council development.
KASB also provides a variety of training programs for district leaders and business operations throughout the year.
KASB members may join the KASB Legal Assistance Fund to receive the on call services of five attorneys and additional support staff. The legal team received over 15,000 phone or email questions on legal matters over the past year. KASB lawyers conducted 39 onsite staff development trainings in member districts in 2019, provided state mandated negotiations training to 113 member organizations and represented 13 members in teacher negotiations.
KASB staff also conducted 22 student discipline hearings and 15 legal investigations, represented members in 11 personnel matters and 11 regulator agency disputes. They have also represented districts on issues such as interlocal agreements, special education, open meetings and property transfers.
The legal department also publishes handbooks on school law topics, and provides policy advice, model policies and updates for members to manage their districts and comply with state and federal laws.
KASB risk management programs provide members with opportunities for savings and higher quality risk management services. These include 110 members in the association’s worker compensation pool; 63 members purchasing property casualty coverage; 20 members receiving employee benefits and section 125 services; 118 members in student accident insurance; 36 receiving health insurance consulting and 179 in KASB’s natural gas purchasing consortium.
The KASB Research Department conducts annual surveys for reports on staffing, salaries, negotiated agreements, school calendars, fees and more, and provides data and reports on a wide variety of education-related issues from state and national sources.
KASB makes this information available for all members. The department also provides research to members upon request on specific local topics to assist strategic planning and other local initiatives.
Communications, Workshops and Trainings
KASB members receive a daily news email that includes original content on a wide range of state and federal education issues. KASB Advocacy staff broadcast live updates using Facebook Live when the legislature is in session and produce weekly (and as needed) video updates during the session and throughout the year. The website provides members quick access to information on key issues and research that can be used for planning.
In 2019, KASB provided a total of 73 workshops and seminars on educational topics attended by 1,725 total participants, plus 385 attended preconference sessions and 584 attended the annual conference.
Topic areas included: Exceptional Boards and Leadership Teams, Improving Postsecondary Success, Developing Quality Educators and Staff, Equity for All Students, Safe, Healthy Students, and Effective, Efficient Organizations.
Please contact Mark Tallman if you have any additional questions about how to respond to the survey or if you have any questions about KASB services.
A copy of KASB’s Annual Report of Services is available on the KASB website.