Many education issues rolled into one Kan. House bill

Mark Tallman, Kansas Association of School Boards
Mark Tallman, Kansas Association of School Boards

By NICK GOSNELL
Hutch Post

HUTCHINSON —
Once the Kansas House returns from the turnaround break this week,
discussions will begin on an education bill that has rolled together
most of the major issues for K-12 into one piece of business.

“The
bill now includes the budget or the funding for the Department of
Education, which is all the aid to local school districts, so it’s the
funding,” said Mark Tallman with the Kansas Association of School
Boards. “It also extends the state mill levy, which is part of the way
schools are funded. That has to be done every two years. Then, it
contains two new provisions dealing with private school aid, which has
been a big topic this session. Finally, there’s provisions dealing with
remote learning. Of course, the whole issue of how schools have dealt
with the pandemic has been a big topic.”

The question that still needs to be resolved is whether putting so much legislation together gains overall votes or loses them.

“It’s
always an issue in legislative strategy, do you put a lot of things
together in hope that parts of it are popular enough to get enough votes
to maybe get some things not as popular, or, if you put too much in
one, does it just sink the whole thing?,” asked Tallman.

There is
still the floor amendment process to go through in the House, plus any
adjustments the Kansas Senate might choose to make.

“When you
throw in the hurdle of getting what the Governor would agree to, what
she would sign and the fact that there could be a majority of
legislators that say, we’ve got to pass a budget,” Tallman said. “The
deadline may be, will a majority of legislators kind of want these other
pieces to pass a budget, even though there might not be two-thirds
support to do that. We could be a long way from resolving this.”

The specifics on when the education budget bill might be on the floor have not been released as of Monday.

Janelle B. Smith

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