A commission will be working over the coming months to look for possible ways Kansas schools could more efficiently use tax dollars. The group is made up of former lawmakers, education officials and members of advocacy groups like the Kansas Policy Institute.
Those on the commission don't always see eye-to-eye on education issues.
The group elected former advertising executive and Wichita Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sam Williams to head the commission. He says he'll be working to get everyone on the same page.
The Kansas State Board of Education is proposing a $459 million increase in state spending on public schools, though the board’s approval Tuesday of budget recommendations was mostly a symbolic statement of support for education.
The board’s proposals would phase in over two years an increase of about 13 percent in aid to public schools beginning in July 2015, but funding the full amount would require the state to reconsider personal income tax cuts enacted by Governor Sam Brownback and Republican lawmakers.
Gov. Sam Brownback has appointed an educator to the last open spot on a new Kansas commission that will examine ways to make public schools more efficient.
But a spokesman for the state’s biggest teachers’ union says earlier appointments by a legislative leader show that the panel will have an anti-public schools agenda.
On Wednesday Brownback named Hoisington High School principal Meg Wilson to the Student Performance and Efficiency Commission. He previously appointed superintendents Bev Mortimer of Concordia and Jim Hinson of Johnson County’s Shawnee Mission district.
Kansas education groups are gearing up their political activities ahead of the Aug. 5 primary election, putting their money and energy behind state House candidates that support public schools.
Organizers say teachers view recent changes in teacher licensing and loss of administrative due process as an attack on their profession.
The Kansas National Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, has more than $400,000 to spend this election cycle. Other organizations are going door to door to boost turnout for pro-education candidates.
Updated at 12:40 on April 21, 2014: Gov. Brownback announced in a press release on Monday that he has decided to sign HB 2506. The bill addresses school funding equity issues pointed out in a Kansas Supreme Court decision.
A deadline is approaching for Governor Sam Brownback to make a decision on whether to sign a bill on spending for Kansas’ public schools.