Posted Date: 04/28/2022
Republicans on the K-12 Education Conference Committee on Wednesday came to an agreement on the mega education bill, which may go to the full House and Senate for consideration as early as Thursday.
The agreement provides funding under the Gannon school finance settlement but doesn’t include the proposed $30 million increase in special education sought by Gov. Laura Kelly.
The bill also includes the so-called open enrollment provision that would allow any student to transfer to any district that has capacity. Under the proposal, that would start in the 2024-25 school year. KASB and many education groups oppose the open enrollment requirement, saying that enrollment decisions should be made by local boards considering local factors, as it is done now in many districts.
Education advocates are encouraged to contact their legislators as soon as possible to voice their concerns with the bill.
The conference committee report for HB 2567 also includes an option for school districts to use an online math program that will be funded with federal COVID funds and state general funds. Earlier versions of the math program would have required districts to participate and pay for the program.
The bill also allocates $43 million in state general funds to make up for the recent expansion of the property tax exemption for the statewide school mill levy. Other big-ticket items include $13 million in federal impact aid and $6.6 million more for virtual schools.
The bill also includes $100,000 in state general funds to pay for a dyslexia coordinator. Earlier, Republican members of the conference committee had proposed assessing districts to pay for the coordinator.
Senate Education Chairwoman Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, praised the conference committee report, saying it provided targeted funding to help schools while she criticized school districts, Gov. Kelly, the plaintiff school districts in the Gannon lawsuit and student test scores.
Earlier, House K-12 Education Budget Committee Chairwoman Kristey Williams, R-Augusta, criticized the proposal to increase special education by $30 million, saying that schools were already getting enough funding.
Special education advocates say the state needs to increase SPED funding by $155 million for the state to reach 92 percent of “excess costs,” which is required under state law. Kelly initially proposed a $7.5 million increase but then increased that to $30 million, adding that she wanted to work with the Legislature on the special education funding issue.
Also on Wednesday, the Legislature gave final approval to HB 2466, which is aimed at having computer science courses in all high schools. Legislators are proposing $2 million in grants to districts to help the computer science effort.
A video update of Wednesday’s developments is here.