Lawmakers make recommendations for Kansas schools

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The goal is to open Kansas schools in the fall, but lawmakers are making plans just in case that can’t materialize.

The House K-12 Education Budget Committee is making recommendations for the continuous learning plan to the Kansas State Board of Education, as well as the full Kansas legislature. The recommendations include changing the plan to require 50% of learning in core subjects to be conducted directly even if school buildings are closed. That could mean in-person learning or using video or audio calls.

“You could have the most wonderful continuous learning plan that is remote, but it may or may not reach the needs of those students,” said Representative Kristey Williams, R – Augusta. “For the vast majority of our students, they need face-to-face contact, they need supervision, they need that hands-on instruction.”

According to Rep. Williams, who is the Chair of the K-12 Education Budget committee, 45% of Kansas students are considered at-risk and therefore need direct contact and learning with their teachers.

The committee is also recommending that more accountability measures are put in place to make sure students are doing their work and progressing appropriately.

“Parents want accountability for their own kids, because that’s hard to do. Kids want accountability, they want structure, they want someone to say their work matters,” added Williams.

There are concerns that the Kansas K-12 education budget could see some major cuts in the coming years. Kansas is expecting a $650 million budget hole in fiscal year 2021. Governor Kelly says that she hasn’t ruled anything out when it comes to budget cuts, including education. Rep. Williams recommends that school districts begin planning ahead by saving, using carryover funds as well as federal funding provided by the CARES Act.

“Having a rainy day fund…well I’d say this is a rainy day,” said Williams. “So I hope they’ll turn to those.”

The continuous learning recommendations were submitted to the Kansas House of Representatives leadership and may be discussed on the final day of the legislative session, Thursday, May 21, 2020. The recommendations will also be submitted to the Kansas State Board of Education.

Rep. Williams says she has also requested that an interim committee be created to continue work on the Kansas continuous learning plan after the legislative session ends.

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