The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

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.


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
Top Stories
  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • r072314techcenter4.jpg Southeast Kansas schools, businesses get behind new technical center

    When Galena Superintendent Brian Smith looks at the millions of dollars of construction projects going on in his district, not to mention similar projects underway in Joplin, Carthage and elsewhere, he sees the need to train masons.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting_Cast.jpg Doctor fired back at gunman in hospital attack

    A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    July 24, 2014

  • APTOPIX Vatican Pope.jpg Pope meets Sudanese woman sentenced to death

    Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant daughter born just weeks ago in prison.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Box Turtle.jpg Getting reacquainted with garden dwellers

    Visitors to my garden this week find me covered in dust and dirt with bits of wood, leaves and who knows what else caught in my hair; stinky, sweaty gloves; grimy sweat pants and rivulets of dirty perspiration running down my face.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • mug_sarah-coyne-112613-c.jpg Sarah Coyne: Older kids still find joy in toys

    When she crawled under her covers, she buried her head in her pillow. Then she looked up at me and whispered, "But what if I can't stop thinking about that spider?"

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072414_annie1.JPG Child's play: Kids comprise the cast of 'Annie Jr.'

    The kids are getting a kick out of playing adults. While most of the main characters in "Annie Jr." are orphan children, some, such as Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and President Roosevelt, are squarely past adulthood.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo