Sex, Equity, Bonding, and Procurement…Lots Going On Under the Dome!

Mar 16, 2016 by

House Passes Over Sex Ed Bill for Today

HB 2199, the bill requiring that human sexuality education be offered only on an “opt-in” basis, was up for debate today on the House floor. After debating three other bills, a motion was made to rise and report meaning that the bill was not debated today. It remains on the calendar and is available for debate later.

Under current law, local school boards can make a determination whether to offer human sexuality education on an opt-in or opt-out basis depending on their own community. This bill would disallow the opt-out option.

There is general agreement that opt-in programs have lower participation than opt-out. Many worry that without human sexuality education, some students will not get age appropriate education. As a result, it is possible that there could be an increase in sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies.

The bill went further in that it would prohibit a school district from exposing any child who had not opted in to the program to any program materials. This provision stemmed from a parent complaint in the Shawnee Mission School District. One child photographed a controversial poster in a classroom that was part of the adopted human sexuality program.

If passed as is, the district would have to ensure that no child who is not in the program cannot see any program materials. The district would have to ensure that, if a classroom is used for both human sexuality and another subject, no materials from the human sexuality program could be seen. Additionally, the district would have to find a way to keep students in the program from sharing anything from the program with others. This would be impossible to enforce.

KNEA opposes this bill and believes school districts and boards will make the appropriate decisions for their own communities.


Ways and Means Takes Up Masterson Equity Bill

The Senate Ways and Means Committee today held a hearing on SB 512, Senator Masterson’s (R-Andover) bill intended to address the equity ruling of the Kansas Supreme Court.

While the bill shares some similarities to the Ryckman bill (HB 2731) heard in the House yesterday, it differs in one pretty significant way. Both bills return to the equity formula provisions in place before passage of the block grant bill (SB 7) and both bills repeal the extraordinary needs fund in order to find some money for fix. But while the House Bill looks to spend an additional $23 million, the Senate Bill simply rearranges some existing school funding to bridge the gap between the $17 million from the extraordinary needs fund and the actual cost of restoring equity.

Dave Trabert of the Kansas Policy Institute expressed some support for the Senate Bill because it provides no additional funding to schools.

Problems with both bills are that 1) they eliminated the extraordinary needs fund which is the only place districts can go in the event of large changes in property values or student demographics/enrollment and 2) they create winners and losers, something that is especially problematic at a time when schools have been flat funded.

And while the block grant would allegedly let schools know what they would get in funding for its duration, they would actually cut funding to some districts. One also wonders what impact the elimination of the extraordinary needs fund would have on the adequacy case still pending in the Courts.

No action has been taken as of yet on either bill.


Bond & Interest Review Panel Bill in Senate

The bill creating the Bond and Interest Review Panel was taken up once again in the Senate Education Committee today. Senate Bill 356 as introduced was very similar to House Bill 2456, worked in the House Education Committee yesterday.

While the bill was up to be worked today in Committee, no action was yet taken. Senator Molly Baumgardner (R-Louisburg) has proposed an amendment to the bill changing the review panel structure which has been floating in committee since the bill was first debated. And today, Senator Vickie Schmidt (R-Topeka) has offered to amend the bill to match the changes made yesterday to HB 2456 with the Trimmer and Bradford amendments.

The Senate Committee will need to return to the bill later to determine which way to go.


Education Budget Committee Considers Procurement Restrictions for Schools

The House Education Budget Committee today is discussing HB 2729, a bill crafted based on a recommendation from the Alvarez and Marsal Efficiency Study.

The first section of the bill would require school districts to make purchases through the Department of Administration’s Procurement List. This list is agreements for bulk purchasing that saves the state money.

The bill provides a few exceptions the requirement:

  • Such items or services may be procured locally in an amount within 1% of total procurement cost of the amount the department is able to procure the same items or services;
  • such items or services may be procured through an education service center;
  • (such board of education determines in writing that such items have a material quality difference that would negatively impact student performance or outcomes as long as the secretary agrees with such determination in writing; or
  • prior to July 1, 2018, a contract for the procurement of such items or services in existence on July 1, 2016, is still in existence.

There is concern in school districts with a provision in section 2 that would make the above apply to the purchase of any services over $20,000. There are services that a district might purchase that cost over $20,000 such as attorney representation that, under current law, would be exempt from the standard bid procedure. Current law requires bidding and the selection of the lowest bid for “construction, reconstruction or remodeling or for the purchase of materials, goods or wares…” It specifically exempts services.

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KPERS Sweep; School Finance & Sex Ed; Anti-Common Core Guru

Feb 16, 2016 by

Budget Conference Committee Okays Taking from KPERS

It didn’t take long after both chambers passed a budget bill for a conference committee to hammer out an agreement.

One of the most important issues in the budget that we are tracking is the Governor’s desire to use KPERS money to balance his budget on paper.

The House bill allowed a delay in payments to KPERS into the next fiscal year. In essence, this action would make the state appear to have more money at the end of this fiscal year and give the illusion of a balanced budget.

The House had amended the bill such that the money would be required to be given to KPERS in the first quarter of the next fiscal year with 8% interest. The Senate budget bill removed the delay in KPERS funding so that KPERS payments would be made on time. It didn’t take long for the conference committee to take the House position.

With this action, it is looking more likely that the KPERS payments will be delayed and members of KPERS will have to keep their fingers crossed hoping the legislature and Governor do not renege on the promise to make the payment with interest.

The real problem in all of this is that the budget does not work. The delay balances the budget on paper only. Nothing is being done in either chamber to address the root cause of the problem – a series of reckless tax cuts that have turned the state’s revenue stream into a trickle. And nothing has been done or is even been talked about openly about dealing with the Supreme Court’s equity decision in the Gannon school finance lawsuit.


School Finance and Sex Education in House Committee

The House Education Committee held a hearing today on a classroom based school finance bill proposed by Rep. Scott Schwab (R-Olathe). Schwab’s bill, HB 2596, would require the legislative post audit division to calculate the cost of education on a per classroom basis for each congressional district. Based on that calculation, a district would get a certain amount of funding per classroom with additional funding for administration and capital costs.

In the first year, this plan would be piloted in one district from each congressional district and then apply to all districts the next year. Every year, an increase in funding based on the consumer price index would be applied and every 10 years costs would be analyzed again to make additional adjustments.

Schwab told the committee that his bill was “not ready for the floor.” He was providing a framework for a committee discussion. He urged the committee to listen to others and consider changes. “If you like the premise and want to make amendments, go ahead and do so. If you don’t like the premise, then okay, don’t do it,” he told the committee.

Chairman Highland (R-Wamego) left the hearing open in case they want to hear from others on the idea.

 

In a surprise move, Highland suggested they turn their attention to HB 2199. This bill from last year changes participation in human sexuality education from district choice on student opt in or opt out to mandating opt in. In addition, it would require district policies that guarantee any student who has not opted in will not be exposed to any of the materials from the class.

The bill was a response to a complaint from a parent in the Shawnee Mission School District. His daughter had taken a photo of a poster from the district’s adopted curriculum that she and her parents found offensive.

This bill would things very difficult for teachers in human sexuality programs. Essentially no materials could be out in a classroom that is used for classes other than human sexuality. Additionally districts would have to ensure that students who had opted in to the program did not share and materials with their friends who had not.

At the time of the original incident, the Shawnee Mission School District took action to ensure that the poster would not be used in the program, addressing the parental complaint. Not satisfied, the parent sought legislation.

The bill had passed out of committee last year and was never taken to the full House for debate. It was referred to an exempt committee at the tail end of the session and so was alive for reconsideration this year.

Representative Tony Barton (R-Leavenworth) made the motion to pass the bill out favorable. The motion passed and the bill now goes back to the full House for consideration.


House Ed Committee to Hear from Tea Party Darling, Duke Pesta

Duke Pesta, and English professor from the University of Wisconsin at Osh Kosh, is the invited guest of the House Education Committee for their meeting tomorrow.

Pesta is revered in Tea Party circles for his vitriolic attacks on the common core standards. He is the Academic Director of Freedom Project Education, an on-line high school providing a “K – 12 classical education with a Biblical foundation and Americanist perspective.”

 

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It’s Turnaround! What’s gone? What’s Where?

Mar 2, 2015 by

KNEA has been following, testifying on, and reporting here on a number of bills in the first half of the session. While generally speaking, if a bill has not passed its chamber of origin by Turnaround, it is considered dead for the year. There are some exceptions to this however.

Bills that were introduced in or referred to the House and Senate Federal and State Affairs, Senate Ways and Means, Senate Assessment and Taxation, House committees on Calendar and Printing, Appropriations, or Taxation are exempt from timelines. A common practice at Turnaround is “blessing” a bill. A bill that is in a non-exempt committee and has not been acted upon can be referred to an exempt committee and so kept alive into the second half of the session.

Here then is the status of a number of bills we have been tracking.

House Bills:

HB 2139, repealing in-state tuition for the children of undocumented aliens. KNEA opposes this bill. It still awaits action in the House.

HB 2034, Dave Trabert’s “minority report” bill changing collective bargaining. KNEA opposes this bill. It has been killed.

HB 2199, mandating opt-in for human sexuality education. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2292, repealing the Kansas College and Career Ready Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, ending use of AP and International Baccalaureate programs. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2257, the education community consensus collective bargaining bill. KNEA supports this bill. It was amended into HB 2326.

HB 2236, the bill ending exclusive bargaining rights. KNEA opposed this bill as introduced. It now contains the education community’s consensus collective bargaining bill. It passed the full House and now goes to the Senate. KNEA now supports the bill.

HB 2220, restoring teacher due process. KNEA supports this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2031, school district plans addressing child sexual abuse. KNEA supports this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2232, personal financial literacy course as a graduation requirement. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2234, prohibiting post-secondary institution employees from using their titles when writing in the newspaper. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

HB 2028, creating a legislative committee to write education standards. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the House.

Senate Bills:

SB 2, authorizing school districts to offer multi-year contracts to teachers. KNEA is neutral on this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 60, participation by homeschool and private school students in KSHSAA activities. KNEA opposed this bill as introduced. It was significantly amended and has been passed by the Senate. The bill is now in the House. KNEA is neutral on the bill as amended.

SB 70, background checks and fingerprinting of teachers every five years. KNEA opposes this bill. It has passed the Senate and is now in the House.

SB 71, changing the LOB calculation creating a cut in supplemental general state aid in the current year. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 56, Removing the affirmative defense from K-12 public, private, or parochial school teachers. KNEA opposes this bill. It has passed the Senate and is now in the House.

SB 67, Common Core repeal (see HB 2292). KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 212, prohibiting the use of payroll deduction for dues collection. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

SB 179, modifying the Public Employer Employee Relations Act (PEERA) limiting negotiations and eliminating the Public Employees Relations Board. KNEA opposes this bill. It awaits action in the Senate.

For information on other bills we’ve been tracking this session, click on the “Bill Quick Look” link to the right.

For information on the status of collective bargaining, see our post below.

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Continued attacks on collective bargaining; Sex Ed bill out; Budget news

Feb 19, 2015 by

House Commerce hears bill to dismantle collective bargaining

Yet another bill in the House to diminish collective bargaining for teachers (HB 2326) had a hearing today, this time in the House Commerce Committee.

The Education Community – KNEA, KASB, USA/KS, and KSSA – testified jointly in opposition to the bill asking legislators once again to adopt the bill that all four groups worked collaboratively to create. (HB 2257)

Here’s one of the most interesting things to think about in this discussion. At the end of 2013 legislative session, the House Commerce Committee asked the four organizations to get together and determine the best changes to make to the PNA. The four organizations took up the challenge and spent 18 months working with their members and then negotiating changes that satisfied each group. They had a bill drawn up and introduced in both the House and the Senate. The four groups all oppose any other legislation changing PNA. And yet the one bill that can’t get a hearing in the House is the one supported by educators.

Instead, the House Education Committee passed out Dave Trabert’s bill to essentially end collective bargaining for anything other than salaries. Now the House Commerce Committee appears enthusiastic about a bill that ends bargaining units, severely restricts what can be negotiated, and would require school districts to negotiate with any individual teacher or group of teachers that wanted their own deal. Supporting this bill was Ken Willard, chair of the Governor’s Efficiency Task Force of several years ago. Imagine if you will how efficient it would be for school districts to be required to individually negotiate with any individual or any group who asked!

State Board member Steve Roberts pitched the bill as a way to get more money to STEM teachers. Asked if it would increase salaries for all teachers, Roberts said he didn’t know “the effect on Kindergarten teachers who specialize in finger painting,” but it would certainly help the high school STEM teachers.

Mark Tallman of KASB, testifying for the educators, pointed out that the bill would create a very inefficient system and severely restrict local control for school districts. Asked if this wouldn’t help to raise teacher salaries, Tallman told the Committee that it would not in that districts had a defined amount of funding. If salaries for some teacher were increased, it would come at the expense of other teachers.

We would remind the Legislature that they asked the education community to craft changes to PNA, the education community fulfilled that request, and perhaps it is time to listen to the educators and set aside proposals by anti-public education lobbyists like Dave Trabert.

The good bill crafted the education Community has had a hearing in the Senate Education Committee (SB 136) but has not been passed out of committee. Instead that Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that ends collective bargaining on everything except minimum salaries (SB 176) on Monday.


House Ed passes bill mandating sex ed programs be opt-in

We reported on the hearing on HB 2199. Because one school in one school district used materials from the adopted sex ed curriculum that a parent found offensive, all school districts would be mandated to secure written permission for a student to participate in the sex education program.

The Committee debated the bill hotly today and passed it out with comments including, “Do you want your children told it’s okay to be gay!”

The bill now goes to the House floor for consideration.


House Ed Budget adopts a K-12 budget

The House Education Budget Committee met today to craft their recommendations on K-12 funding for presentation to the full House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Barbara Bollier suggested that they approve the Governor’s budget amounts but use the current formula to distribute the funds since there has been no block grant bill brought forward.

The Committee, assured by Chair Amanda Grosserode that the block grant bill would be coming soon, rejected Bollier’s idea and decided to wait for the block grant bill.

Rep. Peck brought forth a list of Department of Education positions and salaries and suggested that the Committee look at reducing salary expenditures at the Department. There was much back and forth over this with the Chair saying she was not comfortable doing this without a hearing that would allow the Department to talk about the various positions and responsibilities.

Eventually Rep. Jerry Henry suggested that it was not a good use of time to be making budgeting decisions that would likely have to be undone once the block grant bill surfaced. He suggested the Committee simply adopt the Governor’s money recommendations and then reconsider the whole budget in light of the block grant bill.

The Committee approved that suggestion and adjourned. They will meet on call of the Chair next week.

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