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.
Kansas State Board of Education members face a decision about how much data to release from statewide math and reading tests after public schools faced problems administering the exams.
The board’s discussion today is a response to cyberattacks and glitches in the computerized testing system earlier this year.
The Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas told the board last month that it should not release data for individual schools and districts. The biggest problems occurred with testing from March 10 to April 10.
Kansas education officials say the state’s remedial education plan for incoming college students isn’t working.
The remedial courses, which are sometimes called developmental education, are offered to students who need to improve their capabilities in math, English or reading before taking college-level courses.
The state says 42 percent of the first-time students in two-year colleges and 16 percent in public, four-year colleges take at least one remedial course. Most of those students don’t graduate.
A technical college in Kansas is taking another step toward energy self-sufficiency with the installation of solar panels.
The panels are being put in place this week at Flint Hills Technical College.
The school’s Emporia campus also has a half-dozen geothermal wells, and a turbine to generate wind energy.
Flint Hills moved a few years ago into a new building designed by architecture students from Kansas State University in order to be energy-efficient. The technical college is enrolled in Westar Energy’s solar program, which helped fund the solar panels.
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.
The largest teachers union in Kansas plans to file a lawsuit after the July Fourth holiday challenging new education polices enacted this spring, including the elimination of guaranteed tenure in public schools.
Attorneys for the Kansas National Education Association intend to file the lawsuit in Shawnee County District Court.
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.
The Kansas State Board of Education has approved changes that will allow people with career experience -but no education degree- to teach in public schools. As Stephen Koranda reports, the changes will allow people with real-world experience to teach subjects including math, science and technical education.
The new regulations were prompted by a bill passed earlier this year by the Kansas Legislature, although the Board of Ed had already been considering some new rules. The changes easily passed on a 9-1 vote. That majority included board member Steve Roberts.