education

Kansas News Service

Kansas legislators hit adjournment Friday with some big tasks left for their wrap-up session that starts May 1.

At the top of the list is a tax and budget plan, which largely will be influenced by the amount of school funding that legislators decide to add in light of the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling last month. In the health policy arena, Medicaid expansion supporters are regrouping after the governor’s veto — and holding out hope for another shot this session.

Sam Zeff / Kansas News Service

Kansas legislative leaders took a couple of days to try to persuade some members of the House K-12 Budget Committee to accept $75 million more in school funding, according to legislators on both sides of the aisle.

But the hardball tactics apparently failed.

USD 259 Budget Planning The 'Perfect Storm Of Unknowns'

Feb 14, 2017
Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Wichita Public Schools' budget for this year has been proceeding according to plan. Next year, though, is another story.

On Monday night, Susan Willis, chief financial officer for the district, told school board members that budget planning for the 2017-18 school year is "the perfect storm of unknowns."

Stephen Koranda / KPR/File photo

Education PACs in Kansas are spreading around tens of thousands of dollars to help both conservative and moderate legislative candidates.  

There are two big education political action committees in Kansas, and they back very different candidates.

The Kansas NEA is funded by contributions solicited by the union and in the last reporting period made about $29,000 in campaign contributions and spent $12,000 on polling.

The contributions went to lawmakers who reliably back KNEA positions on school funding and collective bargaining.

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear two hours of oral arguments Wednesday in the Gannon school funding case.

It's hard to imagine an educator, lawmaker or legislative candidate not sitting on the edge of their seat looking for a clue as to how the justices will rule.

Here are some FAQs on the hearing:

So you're telling me the case is still going? Didn't we just have a big Gannon story not long ago?

alamosbasement, flickr Creative Commons

The largest teachers union in the state is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn a law making it easier to fire teachers.

The 2014 bill took away a teacher’s right to an impartial hearing before being fired. Under a previous law, after three years, teachers were awarded that protection under the previous law.

At a hearing today, the union said lawmakers violated the state Constitution, which says bills can only contain one subject. KNEA General Counsel David Schauner says lawmakers improperly took a school funding bill and added the provision stripping tenure.

Shannan Muskopf / Flickr

Recent Kansas ACT scores were higher than the national average.

More than 24,000 Kansas students took the 2016 ACT college entrance exam, which, according to a new report from the ACT, is the highest number of test-takers in the past five years.

The state’s average test score was 21.9 out of a total 36 points. In the Wichita Public Schools district, the average score was 19.7; nationally, students scored an average of 20.8 points.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A new report from the Kansas Association of School Boards says Kansas ranks well nationally in many education categories, but it also includes some signs that Kansas may be lagging.

The Kansas Board of Education is creating a group to study the teacher shortage that's affecting parts of Kansas. As Stephen Koranda reports, the group will recommend ways to make the job more attractive and keep teachers from leaving the career.

The new committee will look at issues like why fewer people are becoming teachers in Kansas and what they can do to reverse that trend.

“This ship will not be turned around in a day, but we have to start the process of turning the ship,” says Board of Education Chairman Jim McNiece.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio/File photo

The Kansas House today approved a bill creating an ethnic studies curriculum for Kansas schools, but then took a change of course on the plan.

The House initially approved an amendment requiring the Kansas Department of Education to develop an optional ethnic studies curriculum. Democratic Rep. Ponka-We Victors, who’s Native American, says she has found many students don’t know enough about other cultures.

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