Gannon is resolved?

Jun 28, 2019 by

What to expect now that the Supreme Court has approved the Legislature’s response in Gannon

Our expectation – and we are confident it is yours as well – is that the time has now come for significant investments in Kansas teachers.

In 2008, with the great recession, the legislature reversed course on the promises made in the Montoy decision. That action followed by the hostile anti-government, anti-public education agenda of the Brownback administration resulted in what has come to be called “the lost decade.” It was a decade built on under-funding and funding reductions to our public schools. It resulted in wage stagnation and wage losses for Kansas teachers.

As we enter this next school year, we find Kansas teachers salaries have dropped to 41st in the nation and now lag behind those of all our surrounding states including Oklahoma who just shot past us from the 49th place standing. Teachers in Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma all make more than Kansas teachers on average.

What we have now with the passage of Senate Bill 16 and the Court ruling is the opportunity to provide significant salary increases to every teacher in Kansas; to begin to make up for the lost decade.

We at KNEA have been saying this for some time but now we finally have others joining us in calling for putting funding increases into the retention of our teaching force. A video distributed by KASB of a panel representing United School Administrators, the State Board of Education, the Kansas Association of School Boards, and the State Department of Education shows a united call for dramatically increasing teacher salaries.

Others have joined in this call. Newspaper editorial boards from across the state are saying now is the time to reward our teachers. There have been op-eds saying the same thing. There is even a column from a conservative teacher quality think tank that says recent teacher activism from states like West Virginia and Oklahoma was justified and that the only way to ensure the excellence in our public education system is to invest in teachers.

We call upon every school board in this state to take this opportunity seriously. It’s time to maximize investments in our teachers. Negotiations are on-going and it’s time to stop stonewalling and start working with the teachers associations to make this happen.

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Thank a Legislator! Considering Fixes to Equity

Mar 13, 2018 by

What’s a Great Way to Say “Thank You” to Representatives Who Support Kansas Teachers?

Last week, 73 members of the Kansas House of Representatives voted to restore due process rights to Kansas teachers, sending the bill over to the Senate where it awaits a hearing now.

Recent news has revealed that while Kansas teachers are 42nd in the nation in teacher salaries, they are dead last in pay when compared to private sector workers in their own state. For every dollar earned in the private sector in Kansas, a Kansas teacher earns 71 cents. On top of that, the retirement system for new Kansas teachers is significantly worse than that provided in our neighboring states. And then, to add insult to injury, the Kansas Legislative Research Department reported that Kansas is one of only two states in the nation that have no job security measures – such as due process – for teachers. These are three big reasons why Kansas is struggling to find teachers to staff our classrooms and why young Kansans are choosing alternative occupations.

So we should be thanking those legislators who are trying to turn this around every chance we get.

If your Representative is one of the 73, you can click here to find a thank you note to post on your social media feeds – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, any and all channels.

Looking at Solving the Equity Issues

In Gannon, the Supreme Court found four provisions of SB 19 that violate equity in the school finance formula.

  • The 10% at-risk floor,
  • The expansion of capital outlay to include utilities and property and casualty insurance,
  • The election provisions on LOB increases, and
  • Basing LOB funding on the prior year’s LOB.

HB 2445 would repeal the first two and make changes to the other two to bring the formula into compliance.

The bill provides that LOB increase elections would be subject to protest petition and possible election. Schools for Fair Funding suggested that it would be more equitable to allow LOB increases based solely on a resolution and vote of the school board. The Kansas City, KS schools brought compelling evidence that school districts with a low assessed valuation per pupil have a significantly greater challenge in winning an LOB election than communities with a high AVPP.

The bill would base LOB payments on current year levels but would require districts to notify the state by April 1 of their intent to seek a higher LOB. The intent of this provision is to give the state legislature more predictability in funding needs.

The bill also would codify into law the current practice in distributing transportation aid on a “curve of best fit.” This was a recommendation of the Legislative Post Audit.

The Kansas Policy Institute testified in opposition to the bill but had no alternative ways to meet the Court’s ruling. In fact, when asked by Rep. Steve Huebert (R-Valley Center) asked what Dave Trabert’s advice would be in addressing the Court, Trabert responded that he would tell the Court, “Thank you for your opinion, we’ll take it under advisement.” In other words, just defy the Court and let our schools close. What great advice!

 

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