Kansas PTA Legislative Updates

This publication provides an overview of all the current legislative events that are related to public education.

2017-2018 Kansas PTA

Legislative Platform and Priorities

PTA Mission and Values. The mission of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Initiatives of the PTA are aligned with this mission and guided by five core values: collaboration, commitment, diversity, respect and accountability. 

EDUCATION PLATFORM – Kansas PTA supports equitable access to quality education that provides all Kansas children the opportunity to make significant growth toward and to achieve the state education standards. The Kansas PTA recognizes no education system can be of the highest quality without the support, involvement and collaboration of parents, caregivers, legislators and the community.

Priority 1. Kansas PTA supports efforts to strengthen and improve the Kansas public school finance system, which includes legislation and policies that:

a. uphold the state’s constitutional obligations to make suitable provision for the finance of the Kansas public schools, achieving both equitable and adequate funding, as informed by actual costs and other credible non-partisan sources.

b. pursue solutions to fully fund state and federal educational mandates, including special education, without disproportionately shifting the burden to local communities.

Priority 2. Kansas PTA will support an equitable and balanced tax policy to maintain a reliable revenue stream for public education. A policy which draws upon a combination of income, property and sales taxes has been proven by history to be a secure and sustainable approach.

Priority 3. Kansas PTA supports policies that promote professional learning communities, teacher retention and recruitment including the restoration and allocation of state funding for teacher mentoring, staff development and other evidenced-based programs and policies that promote quality instruction.

Priority 4. Kansas PTA opposes the use of vouchers, scholarships, or tax credits toward the tuition of non-public schools, with the authority to discriminate in admissions, provide sectarian religious instruction and operate under different rules of transparency and accountability than public schools.

Priority 5.  Kansas PTA supports current state charter legislation, passed in 1994.  Charter legislation should assure that charter school authorizing bodies meet the highest levels of accountability, ensure transparency, and meaningfully engage parents.  Charter Schools should be open to all students and comply with federal and state laws governing public schools that require transparency, responsibility and accountability.  The National PTA Position Statement on Charter Schools can be found at www.pta.org for complete review.

Priority 6.  Kansas PTA advocates for evidence-based prevention and early intervention programs ranging from comprehensive early childhood programs, like PreK and Parents as Teachers, to funding for all-day kindergarten, to student engagement programs that reduce dropout rates and increase school completion.

Priority 7. Kansas PTA supports the State Board of Education’s routine review, revision and adoption of state education standards, including the College and Career Ready Standards (derived from the Common Core States Standards Initiative) and the Next Generation Science Standards. We encourage the State Board’s continued use of stakeholder engagement throughout the revision process, including meaningful input from parents and teachers. Kansas PTA opposes legislation that would ban or defund the education standards as approved by our freely elected, non-partisan members of the State Board of Education.

Priority 8. Kansas PTA recognizes the value of collecting student data to make informed decisions about educational policy and practices and thus will advocate that data collectors be transparent and engaged with families on the development, implementation and notification about policies and procedures related to the privacy and protection of student data; and, allow for parents and families to retain the right to review and request corrections of their child(ren)’s education records or profiles.

Priority 9. Kansas PTA will support efforts to preserve the Kansas Constitutional infrastructure for education, including nonpartisan elections of Kansas school board members and their appointment of our Education Commissioner, as well as, retaining the primary responsibility of defining the state education standards, as facilitated by the Kansas School Board, Kansas Department of Education, and with input from parents, education scholars, practitioners and other education stakeholders.

Priority 10. Kansas PTA will encourage the adoption of PTA family engagement standards into relevant legislation and policy.



HEALTH, WELFARE AND SAFETY PLATFORM – The Kansas PTA will support legislation and appropriations that safeguard and/or related to the health and safety of children and youth.

Priority 11. Kansas PTA supports programming and policies including the protection of children from gun violence, bullying prevention, and safe routes to school.

Priority 12. Kansas PTA supports prevention and early intervention programs and initiatives to reduce participation of youth in the juvenile justice system and to promote the prevention of delinquency.

Priority 13. Kansas PTA supports access to affordable health and dental care for children and families.


Publication of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Leadership (2017)

Denise Sultz, Kansas PTA President

Josh Halperin, Kansas PTA Vice President of Advocacy

Devin Wilson, Kansas PTA State Legislative Chair

Mary Sinclair, PhD, Team Advocate

Debbie Lawson, Team Advocate

The Kansas legislature will convene for the 2017 session on Monday, January 9th. Governor Brownback’s State-of-the-State address will be on Tuesday evening, January 10th. One of the questions that we are waiting to see if it will be answered is whether the Governor’s 2017 education platform will mirror the potential national education agenda to replace the public school system with a voucher-type model. These have been referred to as ‘funding tied to student outcomes’ or ‘performance-based funding’ (PBF for short). The Kansas PTA legislative team will be following along all session. For daily updates, find us on Twitter @KsPTALeg.

New School Finance Formula: Development of a new school finance formula for K-12 public education will be one of the session’s top priorities. We will keep you posted on how the new formula is progressing, particularly in terms of our recommended School Finance Guiding Principles that we submitted to the Governor and our state legislators in November:

  • Quality public education for all.
  • Some students have greater learning needs.
  • Suitable funding is a legislative constitutional obligation.
  • Strong schools are rooted in partnership.
  • No unfunded mandates.
  • Comprehensive early childhood education for all.
  • Health and safety for all.
  • nvest in educators’ professional development.
  • Facilitate quality leadership and professional communities.
  • No vouchers.
  • Driven by state education standards.
  • Budget predictability.

The Kansas PTA guiding principles for the new school finance formula are closely aligned with those of our Kansas educators and school boards (e.g., United School Administrators of Kansas, Kansas Association of School Boards). A complete list of the K-12 Education Budget committee members, scheduled to meet daily, can be found here on the Kansas Legislative website.

Other Watch-List Issues: The state tax policy debate will continue as the other top priority for state legislators in 2017 (see Kansas Center for Economic Growth). A predictable and adequate funding stream for K-12 public education is among the top ten commonly identified priorities for the new school finance formula. The pending Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling on the adequacy portion of the Gannon school finance lawsuit will play a significant role in the final shape of the formula and the evolution of tax policy. Other pressing education watch-issues include an anticipated amendment to the Kansas gun bill allowing concealed and carry on college campuses.

National Education Agenda: The public education community is rising to action in preparation for the January 11 confirmation hearings of nominee, Betsy DeVos, to serve as Secretary of Education. While PTA does not advocate for or against nominees, please be aware of the National PTA New Release regarding the nominee. PTA members are urged to share our policy position with our US Senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran:

  • The PTA opposes any private school choice system—vouchers, tax credits or deductions—that would divert public school resources.
  • The PTA remains steadfast in our approach of putting the needs of all children first by advocating for high-quality public education.
  • The PTA supports public education as the major vehicle for preserving the basic values of a democratic system of government.
  • The public education system must be strengthened with the support of adequate funding, and continue to be governed by public officials.
  • The PTA supports high academic standards for all students and advocates to maintain, strengthen and implement state-designed college and career ready standards. These standards should have aligned curriculum and assessments to support academic achievement and college and workplace readiness.
  •  The PTA seeks to expand access to high-quality early education, improve child nutrition programs, provide access to technology in schools, ensure safe environments in and outside of school, and increase federal investments in education.

Kansas PTA Advocacy Day: Thursday, January 26th from 9:00 – 4:00 will be Kansas PTA Advocacy Day at the Capitol. We have reserved tables in the NW Quadrant, First Floor Rotunda at the Capitol in Topeka. Information on Kansas PTA policies and issues will be on hand to distribute during the day. Meetings with legislators will be scheduled to discuss Kansas PTA policies and concerns. Please plan to join us for all or part of the day!

Contact Us: Kansas PTA advocacy efforts are guided by our Legislative Platform and Priorities, which are reviewed and voted on annually by our members. Please contact the Kansas PTA Legislative team with questions or comments:

Debbie Lawson - Devin Wilson - Mary Sinclair - Josh Halperin – Brian Hogsett

Topeka, Kansas (785) 234-5782 kansaspta@gmail.com http://www.kansas-pta-legislative.org

Governor’s Bold Budget Proposal Provides $0 for K12 School Funding Ruling

The governor’s budget proposal addresses a $648 million shortfall by cutting services, raising sales taxes and rejecting the $550 plus million court ruling that K12 public schools have been chronically underfunded for years.  

Winners and Losers. "It's two years and there will be some up and down, so I suppose you'll have some people who win or lose in it" (Governor Brownback, WIBW, 1/16/2015).

Cuts and Efficiencies. “Efficiencies. There are over $350 million of State General Fund savings in the FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017 proposed budget based on a policy of running programs more efficiently and effectively” (p. 17, Governor’s Budget Proposal FY16).  Kansas Budget Director, Shawn Sullivan says, "I know many people have different words for efficiencies. I do not believe these to be cuts" (Briefing at the Capital, 1/16/2015).  

Highlights of proposed State Budget and adjustments:

1.    Allots $0 towards the $550 million K12 public education budget shortfall.
2.    Cuts state funding and transfers from within $615.5 million to bring budget back into the black.

  • Cuts $40 million in FY15 payment toward the restoration of the State’s pension fund KPERS from the state budget to the school districts operating budgets (aka classrooms) and another $92 million in FY16-17.
  • Deletes $63 million for this 2015 school year in K12 school buildings capital outlay, local authority equalization funds, and school bond/interest aid.
  • Level funds K12 public education at the current unconstitutional rate for the next two years, with no cost of living increases.
  • Decreases funding for colleges and universities by $70.4 million in FY16 and then up $26.6 million in FY17.
  • Cuts $32 million from the Children’s Initiative Fund (CIF) between 2015-2017, while 51% of all Kansas students are eligible for free/reduced lunch and rising.

3.    Increases sales tax on liquor by 50% and a pack of cigarettes by 190%, while slowing down the pace at which the state zeros out income taxes for lower income brackets only, to increase state revenue by $211 million.
4.    Floats a $1.5 Billion bond to back fill chronic underfunding of state pension funds.

55 Cents per Month.  "There's several indicators that show us growth is happening in the state, even with some of the struggles some areas have had," Jordan said. "We think, by lowering taxes, people are going to have more money to put into the Kansas economy” (KS Revenue Secretary, WIBW, Jan 16, 2015).  A family of $30,000 can expect to have 55 cents per month back in their pocket.  Is this enough to get Kansas economy going?  Is this income tax cut worth the impact on your neighborhood school?

Mary Sinclair, PhD
Kansas PTA Legislative Team