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Legislative Newsletter Week 4

House Bill 2504:  School Consolidation

This past Wednesday, February 3, the House Education committee held a hearing on House Bill 2504, commonly referred to as the School Consolidation Bill.  The bill states that on July 1, 2017, and every ten years, the State Board of Education would be required to realign school district boundaries. The boundaries would be effective for school instruction and attendance on the first day of July.

 

House Bill 2504 also stipulates that if a home county has less than 10,000 students, the State Board of Education would realign the district boundaries so that there would be only one district in each county. 

 

The number of school administrators and supervisory service employees employed by a realigned school district could not exceed 120% percent of the number of school administration and supervisory service employees of the school district with the largest enrollment in the prior year when the territory became part of the district.

 

The bill does state it would allow school districts to voluntarily consolidate before the date of realignment. School districts that would consolidate on or before July 1, 2016, could file a request that would specify the home county that a voluntarily consolidated district would be considered a part of, only if the district has territory in that particular county.

 

Before July 1, 2017, the Department of Education would be required to identify and list all property, including real estate and vehicles, by the district and used primarily for a district’s central administration purposes during the 2016-2017 school year.

 

Then before the date of July 1, 2018, the Department of Education would be required to notify each realigned school district of all listed property that it would receive. If a realigned district were in possession of two or more physical office locations, the realigned district would only be able designate one physical office location to be used for school administration purposes. If a realigned school district were be in possession of two or more vehicles, the realigned district would only be able to designate one vehicle to be used by the superintendent or other central administration staff. These designations would be posted by the Department of Education on its website for at least two years. All other vehicles and property not designated would be considered “surplus district property.” All surplus district property would be transferred to the Kansas Department of Administration. With approval of the State Finance Council, the Secretary of Administration would dispose of all surplus district property with the proceeds being deposited into the State General Fund.

 

The Department of Education estimates the enactment of this bill would reduce the number of school districts from 286 to 132. However, the bill would have no effect on state aid to school districts, as the bill does not make changes to the current block grant school finance funding. Because state aid to districts would not change, expenditures that would have been utilized for realigned superintendent salaries and “surplus district property,” such as administrative buildings and vehicles, would likely be reallocated within districts; however, overall expenditures for districts would not be reduced.

 

I am adamantly opposed to this bill and during the course of the past two weeks, I have received numerous emails, calls, and letters expressing the same position and concerns.  Although I do not foresee this bill moving forward in the legislative process, however, if it does, I will do everything I can to stop it.

HCR 5005

HCR 5005 would submit to the voters of Kansas an amendment to Article 3 of the Kansas Constitution regarding the selection for Kansas Supreme Court justices. This amendment would eliminate the Supreme Court Nominating Commission and allow the Governor to appoint a qualified person to the position with confirmation of the Senate. According to this amendment, the Clerk of the Supreme Court would promptly notify the Governor when a vacancy would occur, then the Governor would then be required to make an appointment within 60 days. If there is no appointment made by the Governor, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would select an appointee.

In either appointment scenario, the Senate would be required to vote to consent to the appointment within 60 days of the appointment. If the Senate is not in session and will not be in session within the 60 day time limit, the Senate would be required to vote on the appointment within 20 days of the beginning of the next session. If a majority does not vote in favor of the appointment, the Governor would then be required to appoint another qualified person within 60 days of the vote, and the same procedure would be followed until a valid appointment is confirmed.

While the method of appointment would change, both the Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges would continue to be subject to retention elections.

Although I do favor this selection model, very similar to the model used on a federal level, the House Concurrent Resolution failed to gain the two-thirds majority in order to proceed.

House Bill 2486:  School District Bond Review Board

 

House Bill 2486 is another education-focused bill to which I am opposed.  House Bill 2486 would establish the School District Bond Project Review Board, which would be comprised of the following members: the chairperson of the House Committee on Appropriations; the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Appropriations; the ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; and two members of the State Board of Education.

 

For general obligation bonds that have been approved for issuance by a local election on or after January 1, 2016, capital improvement state aid would be paid only with approval of the review board. School districts would then submit applications to the review board for their approval. If the review board approves a district’s application, the board would be required to determine the extent of the facility being constructed or improved is to be utilized for direct instruction of students, as expressed by a percentage of the total utilization of the facility. In making a determination, the board could only consider basic building planning and design to be a part of the facility. Any architectural enhancements to a facility beyond basic building planning and design would not be considered part of the facility that would be utilized for direct instruction. The review board would certify to the State Board of Education the percentage of utilization and that percentage would be used in calculating state aid that the district would receive for bond payments.

 

According to the Kansas Department of Education, enactment of House Bill 2486 would likely have the effect of reducing bond and interest state aid for bond issues after January 1, 2016. The bill would not change state aid entitlements that districts currently receive for bond issues prior to January 1, 2016.

 

I hope that this bill does not move out of the Education committee as I do not feel that it is the authority of the state to involve itself with bonding measures that have been approved by the school district’s governing body and the voting public.

Bills Passed This Week and Contact Information

Early this morning, the House completed Final Action on five bills, four of which passed.  Those bills were:  House Bill 2438 which will allow cities to submit a request to the county commissioners to join an adjoining fire district; Senate Bill 248 which allows for the repeal of key deposit funds; Senate Bill 188 which are publishing requirements under the Kanas uniform financial accounting and reporting act; Senate Bill 133 which would provide immunity from criminal prosecution for a minor seeking medical assistance due to the consumption of alcohol; and House Bill 2446 which increases the minimum motor vehicle insurance liability limit for property damage.  I voted yes on the bills, except I voted no on Senate Bill 188.

If you have any concerns, feel free to contact my office at (785) 296-7672, visit www.troywaymaster.com or email me at troy.waymaster@house.ks.gov

The honor to serve you in the 109th Kansas House District and the state of Kansas is one I do not take lightly. Do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns and questions.  I appreciate hearing from the residents of the 109th House District and others from the state of Kansas.          

Troy L. Waymaster,

State Representative

109th Kansas House



Paid for by Troy Waymaster for 109th Kansas House, James Malone, Treasurer
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