SBR: Preparing for 2019 Legislative Session

Education leaders should reach out to legislators

By Leah Fliter,

With the close of the 2018 general election season, Kansas school leaders are turning their sights toward the 2019 Legislative Session. A new Governor — Democrat Laura Kelly, who ran on a pledge to be “the education governor” — will have to reach across the aisle to work with a Republican-controlled Legislature whose leaders have not always been friendly to public education. Furthermore, the House of Representatives will welcome 30 new members, roughly one fourth of that body.

So, what should school board members and other advocates do to prepare for a session that will feature not only a legislative response to the Gannon VI school finance decision but also debates on Medicaid expansion, higher education funding, a new state transportation plan and persistent problems in the Department of Children and Families and the state prison system?

Here are some tips from KASB’s Advocacy staff:

  • If your school district has a new member of the Legislature, arrange to meet him or her as soon as possible to begin building a relationship. Offer legislators a tour of your school buildings, introduce them to key administrators and staff, and help new lawmakers understand your school district, its budget and how you serve students. KASB staff will be happy to meet new members WITH you, if you wish.
  • Ask to meet formally with both new and returning lawmakers before the session to discuss issues of concern. This could be at a local board meeting, a regional forum, or individually with school district leaders. KASB has several resources members can use to explain K-12 public education issues.
  • The “Commitment to Success” booklet provides a general overview of K-12 education issues and the KASB Legislative Committee report gives a good outline of important issues.

KASB has already released several support materials presenting the history, progress and challenges of K-12 education and responding to common questions about school finance, student achievement, school spending and staffing.

KASB online resources

You can find these documents on the KASB website at Click on the Advocacy tab at the top of the page, then click Key Resources. This page, highlighted in the illustration below, includes links to presentations, documents, KASB videos and podcasts, and blog posts on education issues.

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