Schools and education

Parents, teachers walk for Kansas schools
March 31, 2014
Despite sore feet and windy weather, five parents and teachers have completed a 60-mile walk from Johnson County to the Statehouse to show support for Kansas public schools.
Lawrence-area students earn trip to speech and debate nationals
March 31, 2014
Lawrence High School’s Haley Luna and Free State High School’s Hannah Moran both qualified to the national speech and debate tournament this summer in congressional debate. Luna qualified in the Senate division while Moran qualified in the House competition. By Peter Hancock
Kansas House committee chairman resigns amid GOP disputes over school funding
March 31, 2014
The chairman of the House budget committee resigned Monday amid disagreements among Republicans over a school finance bill. Rep. Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, resigned his post as the panel opened hearings on a new bill that more closely resembles a bill by Senate Republican leaders. By Peter Hancock
School finance to dominate final week of regular session
March 29, 2014
With one week remaining in the 2014 regular session, Kansas lawmakers will focus heavily on school finance proposals aimed at responding to a recent state Supreme Court ruling. The House will consider one bill that would tie increased funding to policy changes favored by conservatives, while the Senate will look at two proposals that would partially pay for the increases with cuts in other parts of the K-12 education budget. By Peter Hancock
Lawrence quilter, area students hope to follow Mandela quilt to international exhibit in South Africa
March 29, 2014
The result of two months of work, in which nearly a dozen students and a longtime Lawrence quilter had a hand, will soon be boxed up and shipped across the Atlantic. Now, those who produced the quilt hope to find a way to follow it to South Africa. By Stephen Montemayor
Kansas House passes student data privacy bill
March 26, 2014
A bill to protect the privacy of data that schools collect on individual students sailed through the Kansas House on Wednesday. But supporters had to beat back amendments, including one requiring students to show proof of citizenship when they enroll. By Peter Hancock
Kansas Senate Republicans offer two school finance plans
March 26, 2014
Kansas Senate Republicans unveiled two school finance plans Wednesday that would restore funding aimed at low-wealth school districts. But they would both use cuts in other areas of education funding. By Peter Hancock
Republicans in Kansas Senate unveil school funding plan that would let districts increase property taxes
March 26, 2014
Republican leaders in the Kansas Senate have outlined a new school funding plan that would give local districts extra authority to increase property taxes to supplement their state funds.
Kansas House to debate student data privacy bill
March 26, 2014
The Kansas House is preparing to debate legislation restricting the identifiable information collected on public school students.
Kansas school finance bill cuts $15 million in transportation aid
March 25, 2014
A school finance bill that adds $129 million in state aid targeted mainly at poor districts would also cut $15 million in transportation aid from all districts. Lawrence schools would lose nearly $190,000 under the plan, which the House budget committee plans to begin debating Wednesday. By Peter Hancock
Governor generally pleased with progress on Kansas school finance bill
March 25, 2014
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said Tuesday he was optimistic that legislators were getting closer to a school funding solution to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court ruling, though he would like to see more of the new spending directed toward classrooms.
Lawrence school boundaries could shift in 2015
March 24, 2014
A task force appointed by the Lawrence school board is looking at ways of shifting attendance zone boundaries in the 2015-2016 academic year to prevent overcrowding in some buildings. The panel is focusing its attention on Langston Hughes, Quail Run, Sunset Hill, Pinckney and Deerfield schools. By Peter Hancock
Lawrence teacher contract talks begin amid uncertainty on school finance
March 24, 2014
Negotiators for the Lawrence school district and the local teachers union exchanged opening offers on mostly non-salary issues Monday in preparation for a new master agreement. But both sides are waiting anxiously for the Kansas Legislature to decide how much money will be available for salaries in the upcoming school year. By Peter Hancock
House GOP leaders introduce school finance plan, policy changes
01:40 p.m., March 24, 2014 Updated 05:52 p.m.
House Republican leaders Monday introduced a school finance plan that they said will provide $129 million to satisfy a Kansas Supreme Court order to provide equalizing funds to help poor district districts. By Peter Hancock and Scott Rothschild
New evaluations loom as Lawrence teachers, district open new contract talks
March 24, 2014
The Lawrence school district and the local teachers union begin talks this week on a new contract for the 2014-2015 school year. Part of those talks will focus on a new teacher evaluation system that will be based in large part on student growth and achievement. By Peter Hancock
Plaintiffs respond to GOP school finance bill
March 22, 2014
John Robb, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the school finance case Gannon vs. Kansas, says a bill being introduced by Republicans in the Legislature would raise more constitutional problems than it would solve. House and Senate budget committees are expected to begin debating that bill this coming week. By Peter Hancock
Charter school provision a mistake, GOP leaders admit
March 21, 2014
House Republican leaders said they didn’t mean to include an expansion of charter schools in a wide-ranging education bill to address a Supreme Court ruling on school finance. They plan to introduce a new bill next week, but education groups say they’re still concerned about many other provisions of the bill. By Peter Hancock
House Republicans offer school finance fix
March 21, 2014
Republicans in the Kansas House are proposing to restore full funding of equalization aid for poor school districts. But the funding is tied to policy changes that include school choice programs and loosening certain requirements for obtaining a teaching license. The bill is a response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling that said parts of the current school funding mechanism are unconstitutional. By Peter Hancock
Kansas House GOP unveils school funding proposal
March 20, 2014
Topeka — Kansas House Republicans have outlined a plan that fully funds aid to poor school districts but ties the money to policy changes designed to expand parents’ choices on where to send their children.
Legislative committees delay action on school finance fix
March 20, 2014
The House and Senate budget committees were expected to begin working Thursday on school finance proposals in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling. But the chairmen of those committees say they need more time to draft the bills. The Senate panel plans to begin work Friday, while the House panel will wait until Monday. By Peter Hancock
Brownback calls for full K-12 equalization funding
March 19, 2014
Gov. Sam Brownback said today that lawmakers should fully comply with a Kansas Supreme Court order and restore full equalization funding for school districts’ Local Option Budgets and capital outlay budgets. But he left open the possibility of finding “efficiencies” in other parts of the K-12 education budget to pay the estimated $129 million cost. By Peter Hancock
School funding fix may get linked to teacher licensing, other policy changes
01:25 p.m., March 19, 2014 Updated 04:32 p.m.
The chairman of the Senate budget committee is seeking a single bill that ties money ordered by the Kansas Supreme Court with other policy changes sought by conservatives. Among those is a bill to loosen the standards for getting a teaching license in Kansas. By Peter Hancock
Kansas attorney general urges lawmakers to heed Supreme Court ruling
March 18, 2014
Attorney General Derek Schmidt told the House budget committee today that the easiest way to resolve two of the issues in the recent Supreme Court school finance ruling is to restore full funding for “equalization aid” for poor school districts. But some Republicans expressed concern that doing so would only result in local property tax relief, not in more funding for schools. By Peter Hancock
Kansas attorney general outlines school finance ruling
March 18, 2014
ansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says the level of additional judicial scrutiny of public school funding depends largely on how legislators respond to the recent court ruling.
Education officials ponder application of Rose standards in school finance case
March 18, 2014
The Kansas Supreme Court set out a new standard recently for determining whether the state has met its obligation to provide adequate funding for public schools. But it has left some education officials in the state curious about how the new standard will actually work in deciding how much money schools should get. By Peter Hancock
Lawrence prepares for full takeover of troubled virtual high school
March 17, 2014
The Lawrence school district is preparing to take over full control of the troubled Lawrence Virtual High School. The move comes at a time when some officials are questioning the effectiveness of privately-operated public virtual schools. By Peter Hancock
Bert Nash trying to get mental health program back into all Lawrence schools
March 15, 2014
Officials at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center are still working to get the Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities program, or WRAP, program back into the entire Lawrence school district, years after it became a victim of budget cuts. They say WRAP helps reduce violence, suicides and bullying by identifying — and treating — students with mental illnesses at an early age. By Giles Bruce
Moody’s calls school finance ruling a ‘credit negative’ for Kansas
March 14, 2014
Moody’s Investors Service said the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling last week casts a negative outlook on the state’s credit. The credit rating agency said the court’s ruling adds pressure to state finances that are already stressed due to recent tax cuts. By Peter Hancock
Schools given a pass on 2014 tests while kinks in new system are worked out
March 12, 2014
The Kansas State Board of Education has agreed to ignore the results of this year’s reading and math assessments while bugs are being worked out in the new Common Core-aligned tests, and the computer system used to administer them. Some schools in Kansas began administering the new tests Monday and immediately ran into problems. By Peter Hancock
State board advances draft fingerprinting regulations
March 11, 2014
The Kansas State Board of Education voted to advance proposed regulations that would require all school teachers and administrators to have fingerprint records on file as a condition of holding a license. The new rules now go to the Attorney General’s office and the Department of Administration for review. Final approval could come within 90 to 120 days. By Peter Hancock