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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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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