Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Analysis of New House School Finance and Policy Bill

Analysis of HB 2774 - Financing of Kansas Public schools

Introduced March 24.  Referred to House Appropriations Committee.  Major subject areas:

1.  Counting all funding provided or authorized toward suitable financing.

New Section 1.  Declares legislative intent is to provide for a financing system which provides students with the capacities set forth in section 3, and that such financing includes all revenues from state and federal programs provided to school districts or otherwise supporting educational needs of public school students.  Specifically includes:

(a) federal funding to unified school districts or public schools,

(b) appropriations of state moneys for the improvement of public schools, including, but not limited to:
  • the school district finance formula;
  • employer contributions to the Kansas public employees retirement system for public schools;
  • appropriations to the Kansas children's cabinet for programs which assist students enrolled in USD with their educational needs;
  • transportation financing;
  • financing to other facilities which provides public education to students, such as the Kansas state schools for the blind and deaf, school district juvenile detention facilities and Flint Hills job corps center;
  • Kansas academy of mathematics and science;
  • teacher awards and professional development;
  • appropriations to the state board of regents to provide technical education incentives to USDs and tuition costs for career technical education to secondary students; and
  • appropriations to any postsecondary educational institution which provides postsecondary education to a secondary student without charging tuition to such student (dual enrollment); and

(c) any provision local tax authority for the financing of public schools.

2.  Constitutional standards for education goals

New Section 2.  Establishes goals of the state education system based on the “Rose” standards that the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in Gannon are the constitutional basis for determining the adequate level of K-12 funding. (The Rose standards are named for a 1989 Kentucky Supreme Court decision.)

The goal is to provide each and every child with at least the following capacities:
(1) Sufficient oral and written communication skills to enable students to function in a complex and rapidly changing civilization;
(2) sufficient knowledge of economic, social, and political systems to enable the student to make informed choices;
(3) sufficient understanding of governmental processes to enable the student to understand the issues that affect his or her community, state, and nation;
(4) sufficient self-knowledge and knowledge of his or her mental and physical wellness;
(5) sufficient grounding in the arts to enable each student to appreciate his or her cultural and historical heritage;
(6) sufficient training or preparation for advanced training in either academic or vocational fields so as to enable each child to choose and pursue life work intelligently; and
(7) sufficient levels of academic or vocational skills to enable public school students to compete favorably with their counterparts in surrounding states, in academics or in the job market.

3.  Counting state funding for required courses

New Section 3.  In any school finance legal challenge, all state moneys appropriated, distributed or otherwise provided by the state to school districts is to be deemed by the court to have been first applied to pay the costs of required areas of instruction under state law, including the Rose capacities, and for the courses included in the pre-college curriculum prescribed by the State Board of Regents.

4.  Full funding of Local Option Budget state aid and Capital Outlay state aid

New Sections 4.  Appropriates an additional $103,865,000 for local option budget state aid next year (FY 2015) in compliance with the Gannon school finance decision.

New Section 5.  Amends capital outlay state aid statute to allow transfers to be made from the state general fund next year (FY 2015) in compliance with the Gannon decision.

5.  K-12 Student Performance Commission

New Section 6.   Creates an 11-member K-12 Student Performance Commission to study and analyze article 6 of the constitution of the state of Kansas, and make recommendations to the legislature regarding the educational needs of children in Kansas.

The commission shall particularly study and review the following areas:
(1) the “Rose” capacities set forth in section 2;
(2) measures of student performance, such as statewide assessments, standardized tests used in college admissions, graduation rates and any other measurements used to assess student performance and growth; and
(3) public school accreditation requirements in light of the “Rose” capacities.

(The focus of this committee is significantly different than the one proposed in the earlier school finance bill, HB 2773, which focused more on operational efficiencies.)

The commission will have 11 members: 2 appointed by the President of the Senate, 1 appointed by the Senate minority leader, 2 appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and one shall be appointed by the House minority leader, 3  appointed by the governor.  The Commissioner of Education, the Director of the Budget, the Revisor of Statutes and the Director of Legislative Research shall be nonvoting, ex-officio members of the commission, which shall submit a report to the Legislature before January 9, 2015, with findings and recommendations.

6.  Alternative licensure for high school CTE and STEM teachers

New Section 7.  Creates an alternative teacher licensure system for secondary teachers, who may be hired by a local board without completing a teacher preparation program if:
(1) The applicant holds a valid teaching license from another jurisdiction and has obtained the required scores on the Praxis series test, or
(2) the applicant has an industry-recognized certificate in a technical profession; at least five years of work experience in such technical profession; and a job offer to teach a career technical education course related to such technical profession; or
(3) the applicant has at least a bachelor's degree in the subject matter area of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, finance or accounting; at least five years of work experience in such area; and a job offer to teach in such area.

7.  Teachers under tort claims act

New Section 8. Requires each school district to provide written notice to each teacher employed by such district of protections afforded teachers under the Kansas tort claims act, which provides liability protection to teachers as public employees.

Specifically, the notice must  include information about a teacher's coverage as an employee of the district, the amount of liability coverage provided and the procedure in which to request a defense under act.

Section 20.  Specifically adds reference to teachers as included in coverage under the tort claims act. Presumably, this is to allow teachers to have legal protection without having to purchase liability insurance from other providers.

8.  Expansion of Innovative School Districts

Section 9.  Expands the maximum number of innovative school districts from the current 10% of unified school districts in certain circumstances.  An amount in excess of 10% but not to exceed 20% of school districts in the state may operate as public innovative districts if such
school district operates a school within its district which is deemed to be either a Title I focus school or a Title I priority school as under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) flexibility waiver.  Any request for approval under this exemption must be reviewed by the coalition board for approval.

9.  Changes in school finance terminology: local effort and statewide mill levy

Sections 10, 12, 15-17.  In the school finance act, renames “local effort” as “school financing sources,” and the 20 mill statewide levy as the “public school financing levy.”

10.  Reduces transportation weighting based on Legislative Post Audit study

Section 13.  Amends the transportation weighting formula, based on the recommendations of the 2006 Legislative Post Audit cost study which said the current formula overstates costs that should be be paid for transporting students who live more than 2.5 miles from school.  (KASB has not been able to confirm the fiscal impact of this change.)

11.  Excludes free lunch students over age 19 from at-risk weighting count

Sections 11,14.  Amends the school finance law to exclude students older than 19 from the count of at-risk weighting.  This estimated to reduce at-risk funding by less than $3 million.

12. Statutory Base State Aid Per Pupil

Section. 11.  Removes a statutory amount of base state aid per per pupil, currently $4,492.  Instead, the base would be determined by the amount actually appropriated each fiscal year for the designated school year (which is, in fact, what happens now: the actual base is determined by the appropriation).  The appropriated amount shall be based on considerations of funding from all available resources, including the amount of funding described in section 1 (which references all sources of revenue to school districts).

13. Extension of Capital Outlay

Section 18.  Amends procedures for school districts to renew a capital outlay levy prior to the expiration of the current resolution.  (KASB is researching the impact of this provision.)

14.  School Budget Documents

Section 19.  Amends the  Kansas uniform financial accounting and reporting act for school districts to require “one page” budget summaries and budgets at a glance, and requires that publications required by this subsection shall be made available to the public at every meeting held by the board of education of each school district when the board is discussing the district's budget or any other school finance matters.

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