Kansas has a tradition of strong public education, with major decisions made by locally elected boards of education. Now, in the name of “efficiency and competition”, our public school system is again under attack. Last week the House Education Committee heard three bills designed to weaken funding and remove local control.
HB 2486 would require state approval for any bond issue a school district wants for capital projects. I understand the need for the state to get control of this expense, but this bill is not the right mechanism.
HB 2457 expands the program implemented last year to provide funding for private schools. The bill allows up to $12.5 million in tax credits for donations to private schools that have no standards or qualifications required of them. As first pitched as a way to allow low-income students to go to private schools, it is now clear the intent is to subsidize private and parochial schools with tax dollars.
HB 2504 requires the forced consolidation of Kansas school districts. In counties with fewer than 10,000 students, all districts in the county would be combined into one. In counties with more than 10,000 students, districts with fewer than 1,500 students would have to combine with another district. Under the bill the State would go from 286 districts down to about 132. I oppose this bill as the savings are questionable and it would be devastating to rural communities, causing loss of jobs and local control.
I stand for strong public schools and will oppose these and similar measures as they are sure to arise.