Legislative/Education update

NEIGHBORS:

We have only a few weeks to go before the “regular” session ends. There is a break for most of April while new revenue numbers come in, then a wrap-up session in May. Lots of work to do and not much happened last week.

SCHOOL FUNDING

With the Gannon¬†school funding order coming out just before their return, the legislature’s Education Committees got busy in varying degrees this week. The House K12 Education Budget Committee is charged with coming up with the House’s version of a school funding formula. They had hearings about the Gannon order and continued work on the best way to fund “at-risk” students. Chairman Larry Campbell said he expected to have the committee work a bill sometime next week.

While a number of bills have been heard in the House, HB 2270 is getting the most attention. It is very similar to the previous formula, which was found to be constitutional, but adds more transportation funding and more funding for kindergarten and pre-school, among other services.

The Senate is behind the curve on school funding. While Senator Anthony Hensley asked the legislature’s leadership to start working on a formula in 2015, Senate President Susan Wagle just this week finally assigned a special committee to work on a school funding formula. The Select Committee on Education Finance will be chaired by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning. Senator Hensley will be the ranking minority member. President Wagle indicated the committee would start meeting late next week.

The Legislature has until June 30 to demonstrate to the Court that it has a constitutional school funding formula.

NEW DATA ON EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY

One of the things the State Board of Education is working on is making sure students are more ready to go to work or post-secondary training. They are emphasizing many efforts toward that end, like individual plans of study for every student and more emphasis on kindergarten readiness.

One measure of success is looking at what students do when they leave high school. We need about 71% of Kansas workers to have a college degree, certification, or some kind of post-secondary training. We now have access to data on what students do after graduation and we are going to track this for seven years after graduation.

While there are still a few holes (like tracking the 1% who enter the military), we can now look at what students are doing and find ways to help more get the training they need for success.

THE CLASS OF 2010-WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

We reviewed the data we have so far on the Class of 2010. The first year after graduation, 64.5% of students entered some kind of post-secondary training (lime green area). The next year 4.4% more entered training. But 13.5% dropped out (yellow area). Five years later, only 39.3% had completed their training (college or certification, etc.) (magenta area). 23.7% never even entered training (purple area). That is not enough trained workers for our Kansas workforce.

The bad news is that if you look at the charts of graduation years after 2010, they look almost the same. We just have to move that needle. This data will hopefully help us analyze the systemic problems and fix them. We will have this data by high school as well. Very exciting stuff for those of us who like to have hard data on school success and accountability.

 

TAXES AND BUDGET – WHERE ARE WE NOW?

With just three weeks left in the regular session, we still have an unbalanced financial structure with not enough money to cover our expenses and no long-term fix in place. Evidently they did find a way to paper over the issue of running out of money this month, so it appears the state will pay its bills.

The House passed its tax bill, HB 2178, and the Senate passed it as well. The Governor vetoed that bill and the Senate upheld the veto. So far, neither the House nor the Senate has passed a new tax bill. The Senate took a largely ceremonial vote to kill the Governor’s tax bill.

On the budget side, it appears there will be a vote in the Senate on a bill to resolve the 2017 budget shortfall. The good news is that February revenues came in on the high side, so there is less of a hole to fill. Lots of work to do in just three weeks. Odds are there will be no resolution to the tax, budget, or school funding issues until May, when new revenue estimates are available.