WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The House Committee on K-12 Education Budget passed the House Substitute for Senate Bill 83 (H Sub for SB83) in a vote of 64-61 Wednesday.

House Substitute for Senate Bill 83

Kansas Legislature defines H Sub for SB83 in short title as, “Making appropriations for the state department of education for FY [Fiscal Year] 2024, establishing the sunflower education equity act to provide education savings accounts for qualified students, requiring school districts to provide a salary increase to all licensed teachers and defining enrollment of small school districts as the highest enrollment from the preceding four years under the Kansas school equity and enhancement act.”

View the entire Bill here:

Sunflower Education Equity Act

The Sunflower Education Equity Act, or House Bill 2218, will “provide education savings accounts for qualified students in Kansas,” according to Kansas Legislature.

Speaker Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, Majority Leader Chris Croft, R-Overland Park, Speaker Pro Tem Blake Carpenter, R-Derby, and Representative Kristey Williams, K-12 Education Budget Committee Chair, R-Augusta, say the goal of the Sunflower Education Equity Act is to enhance the educational opportunities of every Kansas child by lifting-up every school and every student.

Education Savings Accounts

“The Act uses a measured approach of gradually phasing in low to middle-income Kansas students to the program enabling new opportunities for specialized learning,” the group said. “For those who choose to participate in the program, families will receive an Education Savings Account (ESA) funded with a portion of the state’s per pupil BASE aid funding (about $5,000). These ESAs can be used to cover services such as tuition to a wide variety of schools, books and curriculum, and tutoring to best fit a student’s unique needs.”

Students will have to meet the requirements, which are listed starting on line 23 on page three, to be qualified for a savings account.

Requirements:

  • Eligible to enroll in a public elementary or secondary school in this state; or
  • A preschool student three or four years of age whose parent has verified on a form and in a manner determined by the board that such student:
    • Qualifies for free meals under the national school lunch program;
    • Has a custodial parent who is unmarried on the first day of school;
    • Has at least one parent who was a teenager when such student was born;
    • Has at least one parent lacking a high school diploma, general education development credential or high school equivalency credential on the first day of school;
    • Has limited English proficiency;
    • Has lower than expected developmental progress, as determined by a trained professional, in cognitive development, physical development, communication, literacy, social-emotional or behavioral development, adaptive behavior or self-help skills but such student’s developmental progress is not low enough to be eligible for special education services;
    • Qualifies for migrant status;
    • Is experiencing homelessness

Rules and regulations have been put in place for participating students and their parent(s).

Salary increase to all licensed teachers

The group says they believe the state’s investment in public schools is critical to supporting the primary means of education for every Kansas child.

“The bill also addresses widespread teacher shortages and retention challenges with teacher pay increases demonstrating our commitment to our teachers who have skillfully navigated the challenges of a global pandemic,” the group said.

The bill states that each school district will be required to provide an increase in salary to licensed teachers for the 2023-2024 school year.

“The individual teacher salary increase required by this section is intended to provide all Kansas teachers with a pay increase based on the amount of increased state foundation aid that school districts are entitled to receive through the statutory inflation adjustment to the BASE aid amount pursuant to K.S.A. 72-5132(e)(6), and amendments thereto,” the Bill states.

The formula being used to calculate the increase can be found on page 16 of House Substitute for Senate Bill 83.

Defining enrollment under the Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act

H Sub for SB83 will define the enrollment of small school districts as the highest enrollment from the preceding four years under the Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act, or Senate Bill 19.

Previously, the enrollment of small school districts was defined as “the number of students regularly enrolled at the district on September 20 of the preceding school year, but if the enrollment of the district the preceding school year decreased from enrollment in the prior year, the enrollment will be the enrollment of the district from the second preceding school year.”

This is relevant because the Kansas School Equity and Enhancement Act (Act) provides for State Foundation Aid (SFA) to be provided to school districts, which is calculated by multiplying the base aid for student excellence (BASE) by the adjusted enrollment of the district and deducting the local foundation aid of the district. Therefore, the more students, the more money.