- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A legislative commission charged with studying efficiencies in Kansas schools heard testimony but took no action on a proposal to ban teachers bargaining units from negotiating on anything except wages, salaries and work hours, even if both sides agree to negotiate other issues.

The proposed bill was one of several considered Monday by the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission, which studies how the state can effectively spend its education dollars. Other draft legislation discussed Monday would allow districts to consolidate administrative services and create commissions to study district reorganization and district cash balances.

Commission chairman Sam Williams said it would not act on the collective bargaining proposal until education associations have reach an agreement on it. The Kansas Association of School Boards and the Kansas National Education Association are scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the legislation.

The KASB said in a statement it supports allowing districts and teachers to voluntarily negotiate items other than compensation. Mark Desetti, KNEA legislative and political advocacy director, said the proposal insulted teachers.

“They should be encouraging us to work together to do what’s best, that everyone can agree to. Instead, it’s like putting a gun to our head and saying, ‘Here, let’s negotiate this and here’s our terms.’ How is that right?” Desetti said.

Another bill before the commission would study the reorganization of school districts, with the commission sending a plan to the Legislature to reorganize district administration by early 2016. Several commission members said it was time to stop studying education issues and take action.

“These things are not going to change as long we continue to sit here and try to come up with reasons to not change. The system works very well for some kids and it does not for others, and that will not change as long as the adults and the institutions come first and that’s what this about,” said Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute.

The commission is required to prepare recommendations and potential legislation by early January.

The state faces a multimillion dollar shortfall in revenue and litigation over state funding continues in Kansas courts.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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