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.
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!