Royal Valley B.O.E. supports keeping elections in the spring

Royal Valley Board of Education members voiced their support Monday evening for keeping school board elections in the spring.

The board approved a resolution that states they favor keeping the election cycle as is, with board members being elected in the spring and then taking office July 1, which is the start of the district’s fiscal year.

A bill was proposed last year during the Legislative session to change the school board election cycle to November, with members taking office on Jan. 1.

While that bill did not pass both the House and Senate last year, a new version of the bill is expected to be proposed during the 2015 session.

Superintendent John Rundle said that the Kansas Association of School Boards is urging school boards to declare a public position on the issue so that it can be communicated to local lawmakers.

The resolution states that the school board “calls upon the Kansas State Legislature to pass no law changing the election cycle for local boards of education.”

It also states that the board supports that board member positions continue to remain nonpartisan.

Moving school board elections to November would potentially create a “lame duck” board, according to the resolution, “thereby impeding discussions of administrator evaluations, contract extensions, teacher evaluations, teacher negotiations and budget preparation.”

All the members of the RV board were in favor of adopting the resolution.

“I personally agree with this,” said board member Boone Smith. “Imagine how frustrating it would be to be a lawmaker that was elected to office in March even though the session had already started in January.”

In other business, during the meeting, the board:

* Approved consent items.

* Received a legislative update from Rundle, who reported on several bills being worked this session including a Senate bill that would be an alternative to due process and tenure for teachers, which was removed by law last year.

Gov. Brownback has proposed repealing the current school finance law and using a block grant system for two years while a new formula is established.

Rundle said the proposed block grant would result in a $127.4 million cut from current available general operating funds, which is a potential four percent decrease in funding. However, Kansas Public Employees Retirement System contributions would increase, as well as bond and interest.

“We’re in a ‘wait and see’ mode to see if this gains traction,” Rundle said. “There are more questions than answers.”

Board member Ann Kelly also reported on a recent Governmental Relations Network meeting she attended in Topeka.

Kelly said that there are a lot of new lawmakers in Kansas this session, and they are still learning how education is funded.

“There is a big push to contact our legislators personally,” Kelly said. “Personal contact is more of an influence than lobbyists.” 

Kelly said that, at the workshop, there is a new emphasis on reporting and tracking how graduates do after high school.

* Received a quarterly progress monitoring report from Susan Pfrang, director of curriculum and instruction. Students will be working on a variety of new assessments that are lined up with the state’s new common core standards. Assessments will begin in the district on March 9.

* Heard preliminary enrollment projections from Rundle who estimated next year’s headcount to be around 910 students. Rundle said that he hopes the district has close to 70 kindergarten students.

 Under the state’s current school finance formula, the district’s will probably be using a three-average for its full-time equivalency next year. However, that could change if the block grant funding program is passed and implemented.

* Received and approved district summer school plans. A credit recovery course for seventh and eighth grade students will be offered. The district does not plan to provide transportation for the program.

A course recovery session will be held for any non-graduating seniors if it’s necessary at RVHS. Also, a driver’s education course will be offered.

Board members agreed to allow Rundle to advertise and hire staff for these programs.

* Met in executive session for 20 minutes with Rundle and Pfrang to discuss non-elected personnel and teacher salary negotiations.

Back in open session, the board approved a one-year contract extension for Rundle.

* Adjourned the meeting. All board members were present.

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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