Posted Date: 04/02/2022
The Legislature failed to pass the K-12 budget bill before first adjournment. That means legislators will tackle the issue again when the omnibus session starts April 25.
Meanwhile, the House and Senate sent to Gov. Laura Kelly bills that would prohibit transgender students from participating on girls’ school teams and establish a parents bill of rights. But neither measure gained the two-thirds majorities that would be needed if Kelly vetoed the bills.
On the public school budget, after a week of negotiations in a House-Senate conference committee, the bill got bogged down with the addition of policy proposals by House GOP education leaders.
One of the more controversial policy proposals in HB 2567 would require school districts to allow non-resident students to enroll and attend any district. KASB opposed the so-called open enrollment provision, saying the decision on whether to accept non-resident students should be decided by local boards after consulting with their patrons, as it is done now.
Another controversial proposal would have established a virtual math program that would be paid with federal COVID-19 funds in the first year, but then charge districts fees in the second year of the program.
A conflict also arose during last-minute negotiations between House and Senate conferees on the education budget when House K-12 Education Budget Chairwoman Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, insisted the Kansas Promise Scholarship program be expanded to give Kansas taxpayer-paid scholarships to students from bordering states of Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado. Senate Education Chairwoman Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, said the proposal needed more public vetting.
Aside from the various policy proposals, there were also portions of the bill supported by KASB and other education advocates, specifically funding from the Gannon school finance settlement, help for districts that receive federal impact aid and improving the way capital improvement state aid is determined for bond and interest aid.
Legislators who opposed the open enrollment proposal said they hoped that leaders will allow a “clean” K-12 funding plan without policy provisions to be voted on during omnibus. They also wanted to make sure the federal impact aid was approved.
SB 160, which bans transgender athletes on girls' teams, was approved 74-39 in the House and 25-13 in the Senate. Kelly vetoed a similar measure last year. It would take 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate to overturn a veto.