By NICK GOSNELL
TOPEKA, Kan. —
The Kansas Association of School Boards is looking forward to the first legislative session in several years where there is not an active court case regarding school funding, though the Kansas Supreme Court has retained jurisdiction of the Gannon case for now. In a pre-session KASB Live video Friday from their Topeka headquarters, KASB Vice President for Advocacy, Mark Tallman went over some of the issues that are expected this year.
"A big issue that I think will be focused on for most of our districts is how we can have competitive salaries and benefits for educational leaders and filling new positions that we have," Tallman said. "I think a lot of that is simply going to be, is the legislature going to stay the course in providing the funding that was expected?"
Also, many school districts believe getting an early start with kids is worth spending money on.
"For the past six months, really, there's been a big focus in developing stronger early childhood programs in the state of Kansas," Tallman said. "While we are not seeing any specific legislation right now, I think there is going to be a focus on, if possible, expanded funding for things like early childhood education programs, support for childcare initiatives, some of these things."
In addition, there is an area that is of particular interest to both the legislature and the Kansas Supreme Court where new data has been received.
"At risk students are where the particular topic is going to be removing the sunset on high-density weighting and the issues that are coming out around the audit that came out," Tallman said. "I think it's really generating a lot of questions on how we do at-risk programming."
The proxy for at-risk students has been the free lunch count, though not all free lunch students are at-risk and not all at-risk students qualify for free lunch.