The Senate Education Committee held a hearing on SB 271, a bill repealing the sunset on high density at-risk funding.

High density at-risk weighting was adopted a number of years ago after a cost study noted that addressing student needs in areas with high concentrations of poverty drove costs higher. It has been amended over time with the latest amendment happening in 2017 when it was changed to allow calculation either by district or by building and the sunset was put in.

If the weighting sunsets, schools will lose more than $50 million in funding to help our most challenging students.

There was a lot of proponent testimony before the Senate Education Committee including joint testimony presented by KASB lobbyist Mark Tallman on behalf of KASB, KNEA, and USA/KS. Superintendents from around the state weighed in in support as did the Shawnee Mission First parent advocacy group and the Kansas PTA.

There were no opponents to the bill. Dave Trabert of the Koch-founded Kansas Policy Institute (KPI) appeared as neutral, using the bill as an opportunity to trash public education, asserting that the majority of students in public schools were being graduated without being prepared. This, of course, was followed up by his usual demand for vouchers so public money can be funneled to private and parochial schools – even those that are not accredited.

No action was taken on the bill today.

Chiefs Parade Closes the Legislature!

With many legislators wanting to go to the parade in Kansas City honoring the Chiefs for their victory in the Super Bowl, leadership decided that there would be no session tomorrow. It was up to committee chairs to decided whether their committees would meet. As a result, all legislative committees scheduled for tomorrow have been cancelled. We were hoping that leadership would also issue a decree that all lobbyists would be released from work for the parade but, alas, it was not to be.