SBR: Legislative Committee starts work on policies for 2020 Session

KASB’s Legislative Committee in August started work on policy proposals that will also be discussed at Fall Regional meetings in September and October.

The committee will meet again in November to finalize recommendations to the Delegate Assembly at KASB’s annual convention in December in Wichita. The Delegate Assembly will vote on the policy positions that will guide KASB advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session, which starts in January.

In discussions, committee members said reducing vaping, expanding Medicaid and special education funding were among the major concerns in their communities.

The committee also said it will continue discussions for possible recommendations on bullying, immigration and several other issues.

A state task force has been working on bullying and will provide recommendations on policies, best practices, legislation and training to the State Board of Education. Legislative committee members said proposals to reduce bullying should be evidence-based and involve communication with parents and the community. KASB President-Elect Designee Lori Blake, who is a member of the Southeast of Saline USD 306 board, serves on the state task force, as well as KASB’s Donna Whiteman, associate executive director/legal services.

On vaping, a coalition of education and health groups will push for legislation next session to increase the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. The Legislative Committee will decide whether to endorse such legislation.

A vaping task force has been formed by the State Board in the face of alarming increases in the number of young people using e-cigarettes. KASB has been part of the working group and advises boards and districts that wish to adopt or strengthen anti-smoking and anti-vaping policies. KASB Assistant Executive Director of Legal Services Angie Stallbaumer represents the association on the task force.

On immigration, KASB issued a statement in July decrying inhumane conditions at facilities where immigrant children were being detained, particularly when separated from their families. KASB stands with the National School Boards Association in recognizing that the inhumane treatment of children and their families seeking entry or asylum into the United States is traumatic for the children and their families. Lack of adequate food, housing, health care, basic hygiene, educational services and social and emotional support causes trauma that severely inhibits children’s ability to learn and function.

This issue is specifically a concern to KASB because some of these children have attended and will in the future attend Kansas schools. Because of these traumatic experiences, these children will require special attention to recover, learn and hopefully lead successful lives.

In the adopted KASB 2019 Resolutions and Policies, KASB noted school districts are required to provide educational services of all students, regardless of their legal status. Discussion will continue on KASB’s immigration position.

KASB members who wish to weigh in on any of these issues are urged to contact Leah Fliter, KASB advocacy and outreach specialist, at lfliter@kasb.org.

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