School boards now have new options to elect officers and set meetings

Substitute for Senate Bill 130 has become law by publication in the Kansas Register on April 25, 2019. This bill revised several statutes, but, most notably for our members, it revised K.S.A. 72-1133 and K.S.A. 72-1138 on electing a president and vice president of the school board and on setting regular board meeting dates and times, respectively.

These tasks, traditionally done in the first organizational meeting in July, are now to be completed in the first meeting of the board on or after the second Monday in January of each year, or at a later meeting during that calendar year if so determined by the board at the first meeting after the second Monday in January.

The practical impact of these changes is that boards could keep their July organizational meetings and board officer elections in July if they like the timing, or they could move one or both to after any new board members take office in January. In either case, the decision on when to do these tasks must happen in the first meeting after the “new” board is assembled in January. In this meeting, the board could either elect officers and/or pass the resolution setting the meeting dates and times or vote to table either or both of those actions until a specified meeting at any time later in that calendar year.

This well-intentioned law is not without its quirks.

First, it does not allow the board to set a static meeting date. Every board must either take action on these items or vote to move the vote for these items to a later time in the first meeting following the second Monday each January. So, if a board does want to keep these actions in July, there will still be the added step of voting to schedule these votes at a later time every year.

Second, the law still states the terms of officers shall be for one year, although the language now creates a scenario where terms could be longer or shorter depending on when the board decides to vote on these issues each year. With this in mind, board motions to elect these officers should specify they will serve in these roles for one year or until a successor is elected by the board in the next calendar year.

Third, it does not give us any guidance on how we should handle this transition period between July of 2019 and next January 2020.

Therefore, KASB’s legal staff has the following suggestions. The law no longer says elections are in July. So, if a board wanted to keep the current president and vice president until the first meeting after the second Monday in January or the meeting later that calendar year when the election is to be held, the board may. However, if the board likes the idea of keeping elections in July and wants to elect a president and vice president this July to serve “until a successor is elected by the board in the next calendar year,” we do not see anything wrong with doing so. In absence of law to the contrary for this period, home rule authority would allow the board discretion to make that determination.

Similarly, the transition for the organizational meeting is not addressed in law. Keep in mind the new law only addresses the timing of adopting a resolution setting meeting dates and times. It is silent about other organizational decisions. Therefore, it appears the board would need to at least pass a resolution in the first July 2019 meeting specifying the regular meeting dates and times through January or until the board intends to pass the resolution in the following year.

There are many other organizational actions boards generally take in the first July board meeting. These may include, but may not be limited to:

  • Appointing a clerk and treasurer;
  • Appointing a KPERS representative, a food service program representative, a deputy clerk, and a school attorney;
  • Appointing an impact aid representative if your district receives impact aid;
  • Appointing a hearing officer for free and reduced-price meal application appeals;
  • Appointing representatives to any service center boards or AVTS boards, if necessary;
  • Designating the individuals in each building responsible for reporting children truant pursuant to K.S.A. 72-3121;
  • Designating a liaison for services to homeless and foster children;
  • Designating compliance coordinator(s) for federal anti‐discrimination laws including Title VI, Title VII, Title IX, ADA, and Section 504;
  • Designating the official depository for school district funds and reviewing bank signatures on file pursuant to K.S.A. 9-1401;
  • Adopting the annual waiver of requirements for generally accepted accounting principles pursuant to K.S.A. 75-1120a;
  • Adopting an early payment request policy and designating an employee authorized to make such payments pursuant to K.S.A. 12-105b(e);
  • Establishing student fees pursuant to K.S.A. 72-3353, student meal prices, textbook rental fees pursuant to K.S.A. 72-3346, and the reimbursement rate for mileage pursuant to K.S.A. 75-3203;
  • Adopting a school calendar and designating inclement weather makeup days if your district wants them pursuant to K.S.A. 72-3115;
  • Adopting a resolution to establish petty cash accounts and petty cash limits pursuant to K.S.A. 72-1177;
  • Adopting guidelines for activity funds and gate receipts pursuant to K.S.A. 72-1178;
  • Rescinding all policy actions from the previous year and adopting current written policies as those that will govern for the school year;
  • Approving district, school, and/or athletic handbooks; and
  • Selecting the official district newspaper for publication of official notices pursuant to K.S.A. 64-101.

The Kansas State Department of Education suggests you should also:

  • Review units of credit offered at each attendance center to make sure each center complies with accreditation rules and regulations;
  • Review the preliminary budget;
  • Review records in storage for possible destruction of old records pursuant to K.S.A. 72-1629;
  • Review the district’s insurance policies, including types of coverage, names of companies, and schedule for renewal;
  • Review the capital outlay mill levy authority to see if renewal is needed;
  • Review the immunization policy to ensure it complies with current statute K.S.A. 72-6262.

Although the timing of these actions is not generally legislated, boards may want to keep many of these decisions near the beginning of the fiscal year or at least make preliminary appointments to last until the board can hold an organizational meeting in the following calendar year. Note that federal and state agencies may require these appointments to be made by a certain date to receive financial assistance for federal or state-funded programs.

Similarly, cooperative agreements may describe when appointments to cooperative or interlocal boards are to be made, so please consult these agreements prior to changing your practice. In general, the district wants to avoid gaps in coverage on these issues. So, we recommend addressing them in the first meeting in July 2019 either for the full 2019-2020 school year or until further action by the board. It is also recommended that policy and handbook changes, if any, be approved and incorporated into the district’s policy system prior to the beginning of the new school year, so the changes may be communicated to the parties in interest at the beginning of the new year.

Some of our members have asked what changes in board officer elections means for the appointment of a clerk and treasurer as required by K.S.A. 72-1135 and K.S.A. 72-1136, respectively. These statutes merely provide the board must appoint these staff members. They give no deadlines by which these appointments must be made, nor do they specify how often they must happen, although most boards have routinely added these appointments to their organizational meeting. If the board does them annually, timing is really a question of convenience. Most districts issue personnel contracts at or before the beginning of the fiscal year, so it may be easier for a board to keep those appointments in the summer months, particularly if they choose to keep the election of board officers in July.

We recognize statutory changes like this are complicated. Please feel free to contact KASB’s legal staff at 1-800-432-2471 if you have any questions.

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