Schools Can Make Use of More Funding Effectively & Teachers Can Use Due Process

Feb 12, 2018 by

 

Due Process Restoration is Adopted in House Education Committee

It was a contentious debate but by the end of the House Education Committee meeting today, statutory due process for Kansas teachers was adopted. It will now go to the full House for consideration.

While working HB 2578 dealing with bullying policies, Rep. Valdenia Winn (D-Kansas City) moved to amend the contents of HB 2179 into the bill. This was not a “gut and go;” it was an addition. HB 2179 had a hearing last year but Committee Chair Clay Aurand (R-Belleville) adjourned the committee without working the bill. It later passed the full House as an amendment to another bill but was not taken up by the Senate.
Aurand was taken by surprise by the Winn amendment which was seconded by Rep. Mary Martha Good (R-El Dorado). A lot of discussion ensued with opponents of due process trying to stop the amendment through parliamentary maneuvers, none of which worked.

Rep. Steven Crum (D-Haysville) asked Chairman Aurand if he would consider taking up HB 2179 on its own later this week and then holding a vote immediately after on HB 2578. Without saying yes or no, Aurand went on to take a vote on the Winn Amendment. It was adopted on a vote of 9 to 7.

Rep. Willie Dove then offered an amendment to the underlying bullying bill that would further enumerate what district bullying policies should address. The Dove amendment was adopted.

Rep. Jene Vickrey tried offering a motion to pass the original bill (HB 2578) without amendments but was ruled out of order.

HB 2578, bullying policies and teacher due process, was then passed out of committee favorably for passage on a motion by Rep. Melissa Rooker (R-Fairway). It must now be considered by the full House of Representatives.

K-12 Budget Committee Hears from Superintendents – Lots of Uses for Additional Funds

Superintendents from Olathe, El Dorado, and Garden City appeared before the K-12 Budget Committee to fill in the members on how they would use an additional (perhaps) $200 million per year.

Their responses were almost identical despite their geographic differences. First and foremost – money would be used for personnel. All expressed the urgent need to raise teaching salaries but also salaries of licensed support personnel and hourly employees including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and custodians. The point is they just can’t compete. Personnel costs would also include efforts to hire more counselors, social workers, psychologists, and classroom teachers to reduce class sizes.

Also brought up was the cost of health insurance with one superintendent saying that a beginning teacher would be left with only $2000 per month after paying for her share of the family health insurance premium. Superintendent John Allison of Olathe indicated that the KPERS retirement system for new teachers was a deterrent to recruiting teachers from other states but that the fact that his teachers have due process protections in their contract is a draw.

In summary, all the superintendents knew exactly how to put additional funds to work to improve schools, teaching, and learning.

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Keeping Students Safe from Harm

Feb 9, 2018 by

COUNTDOWN TO MARCH 1, ATTY GENERAL DEADLINE FOR SCHOOL FUNDING FIX

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It was a quiet day under the dome today with no floor action and almost no committee meetings.

Yesterday afternoon, there were hearings in both the House and Senate Education Committees. Both committees dealt with legislation intended to keep students safe from harm.

The Senate Education Committee held a hearing on SB 333, amendments to the Jason Flatt Act. The Jason Flatt Act was passed in 2016 and requires all school district employees to receive one hour of training per year in recognizing the signs of potential suicide.

SB 333 would amend the act so that school districts would have more flexibility in determining how much training, how often that training would be, and who would be required to have the training. Opponents of the amendments included family members who had experienced a suicide in their family and mental health providers who work with individuals in crisis. Senators Lynn Rogers (D-Wichita) and Bruce Givens (R-El Dorado) both spoke as proponents. United School Administrators also spoke as a proponent. KNEA spoke as a proponent with some concerns about the extent of the changes. While KNEA supports some flexibility in the selection of training programs, we asked that the legislation continue to require all school personnel receive such training. We did not support allowing a school district to choose not to provide the training to all employees who come into contact with students. Often a custodian, bus driver, or lunch server have positive relationships with students and might be an actual life-saver in a crisis.

KNEA lobbyist Mark Desetti also suggested the committee remember that the state’s mental health system is in crisis due to a lack of funding and that this legislation ignores the many other places where students interact with adults such as youth sports leagues and community youth development programs.

The House Education Committee held a hearing on HB 2578 which would amend the statutes on bullying policies to require school districts to post such policies on their websites with a prominent link on the homepage, distribute the policies to parents and guardians of students, and file a copy of the policy with the State Department of Education.

Proponents of the bill argued that it was important for parents and students to understand how the district would deal with bullying, what the consequences for bullying behavior would be, how the adults would work with students to understand and counteract bullying. By reading the plans, parents would know how incidents would be handled and might be better able to advocate for stronger plans.

Currently, bullying policies are required but whether or not they are readily accessible to patrons is all across the board. Some policies are not on websites at all, others are buried deep in those websites and hard to find. Still, some school districts have comprehensive policies that are easily accessible.

KNEA supports this legislation.

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