Archive for Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Lawmakers kill measure giving school boards added authority

April 2, 2002


— The House has killed an effort to revive a bill that would expand local school boards' authority and provide more money to districts with declining enrollments.

A motion to reconsider last week's defeat of the school control was rejected Monday on a vote of 66-56.

"I'm very sad this issue has been raised again," said House Education Committee Chairman Ralph Tanner, R-Baldwin.

The bill would grant every local board "the power to transact business for the efficient and effective use of district resources in a manner and upon such terms and conditions as the board deems to be in the best interest of the school district." The practice is known as home rule.

Under current law, legislators grant specific powers at the request of local boards.

Tanner also pointed to an opinion issued by Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall on districts that hire lobbyists. Stovall said the practice is legal but that "a school district is an arm of the state."

"That would not be the case if we granted them home rule," Tanner said.

The bill would have given financial aid to districts with declining enrollment by allowing them to subtract current enrollment from their 1994 figure and count one-fifth of the total to the current budget year.

Without additional funding, the shift of $17.7 million to district's with declining enrollment would result in a reduction of the base state aid per pupil by $30.71. The rate is $3,870 for 2001-2002.

The state spends about $2.3 billion annually on public schools.

In other action Monday, the House tentatively approved a bill allowing the use of federal grant money to help foster children pursue higher education. The bill advanced 88-19 and goes to final action today.

Rep. Bill Reardon, D-Kansas City, Kan., said the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services receives about $2 million in federal Chaffee Funds, intended to provide educational enhancement for underserved populations. He estimated Kansas would use $100,000 to $200,000 to assist the 150 children who leave foster care each year when they turn 18.

Legislators said only half of those students graduate from high school and only 15 generally go on to some level of higher education.

The scholarship bill is HB 2956; school control is SB 409.

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