The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 9, 2014

School bill draws fire from Kansas teachers; area lawmakers split on merits of measure

PITTSBURG, Kan. — After a weekend of debate, a school finance bill passed by Kansas lawmakers has drawn fire from some Southeast Kansas residents and accolades from others, and has prompted confusion for more than a few.

At the heart of it is $126 million in education funding in response to requirements set forth in a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling.

But it also includes Republican-sponsored add-ons that deal with due process for teachers, tax relief for corporations and relaxed licensure requirements.

The bill increases base state aid per pupil by $14, from $3,838 to $3,852.

It also allows school districts to increase funding raised locally, the “local option budget.” Under the local option budget, districts are allowed to tax local property up to 30 percent of the base state aid per pupil.

The bill also allows some districts to ask residents to vote by mail ballot to increase their local option budgets up to 33 percent, a provision geared to those already above 30 percent that do not have high property values.

That’s welcome news, said Galena Superintendent Brian Smith, for his district, which is small and relatively poor.

“The financial end of it was very kind to Galena,” he said. “We were always the most punished because we were the poorest. It’s very beneficial to us in several areas.”

According to a document from the Kansas Department of Education, the bill likely will mean an additional $262,875 for the Galena School District.

CONCERNS

What has drawn the ire of area teachers and teacher associations, however, is a trio of provisions attached to the bill in the wee hours — provisions that teachers say weren’t discussed in legislative committees and could jeopardize public education.

One appears to reduce due process rights for teachers who face dismissal, leaving it up to local districts to decide whether due process should remain in effect. It’s a protection that has been on the books since 1957.

Social media have seen a flurry of opposition, with many urging people to sign an online petition to be given to Gov. Sam Brownback. The goal is 15,000 signatures, and the total had reached 14,359 Wednesday night.

“Many teachers want to advocate for their students, which causes them sometimes to say things that might not be popular with administrators or parents, and I believe that now they may be unwilling to be as strong an advocate for their students because of a lack of job security,” said longtime Pittsburg educator Sherry Turnbull, who was in the Capitol over the weekend for the proceedings.

Others, like Anita White, a social studies teacher at Pittsburg High School who has a background in law and political science, and was at the proceedings, say the wording of the more than 60-page bill is complicated and complex, and could be left open to interpretation.

She worries that it has the potential for abuse across the state, from districts that have a board member who doesn’t like the grade his child received, to those who want older, higher-paid teachers off the payroll in exchange for young, inexperienced teachers much lower on the pay scale.

Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that electronic devices and communications are protected from searches and seizure without a warrant, do you think Missouri needs Amendment 9 added to its constitution?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter