Weekly Update
February 26, 2021
A shot in the arm for in-person learning
Last week the Kansas City Star published a piece that reported a distinct difference in vaccine distribution for teachers between Kansas and Missouri. According to the story, COVID-19 vaccines were available for Kansas educators while Missouri educators were still ineligible. 

Thankfully, during his weekly press conference, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced that the state plans to open up vaccines to those in Phase IB, Tier 3, which means that Missouri teachers and child care providers will be eligible starting on March 15

According the Associated Press, "seven of the eight states adjacent to Missouri are already vaccinating teachers." 

Denise Kahler, director of communications and recognition programs for the Kansas State Department of Education, told the Kansas City Star, "More than 70% of Kansas school districts report that the vaccine is being administered to their school staff, and we anticipate that number to rise sharply in the next few weeks."

Governor Laura Kelly hopes to have all Kansas students back in the classroom by mid-March.
Missouri News
Aligned Priorities

Early Childhood Education

HB 865 (Shields) - a bill that authorizes the creation of county early childhood education boards and a property tax levy to provide funding for early childhood education services passed out of the Committee on Children and Families by a vote of 7-3

HB 973 (Shields) - a bill that increases the amount of state aid that districts and charters can receive for Pre-K to serve students who qualify for free- and reduced-lunch will receive a vote next Wednesday in the Committee on Emerging Issues.

HB 1071 (Shields) - a bill that makes the Quality Assurance Report permanent will receive a hearing next Tuesday in the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. This legislation would allow the state to continue to develop its program for early care and education continuous improvement.

Real World Learning

This week, Senator Denny Hoskins and Representative Mike Henderson filed legislation that ensures students and businesses are protected from liability claims when hosting real world learning opportunities. Those bills are SB 555 and HB 1304

For a complete update access the Aligned Priority Tracking Report.
Legislative News

Here are a few toplines from activity under the state dome this week:
  • Monday, March 1, is the final day to introduce House and Senate bills. To date, lawmakers have filed 1,457 House bills and House Joint Resolutions and 598 Senate bills and Senate Joint Resolutions.
  • Missouri Medicaid Director and former Speaker of the House Speaker Todd Richardson is taking a leave of absence to spend more time with his family and expects to return sometime in the fall
  • This week, Governor Mike Parson announced the "Tier 3 - Phase 1B" vaccinations will commence on March 15. To date, Missouri has completed 68 mass vaccination clinics. 
Education Update
This week the Senate took up SB 55, sponsored by Senator Cindy O'Laughlin (R-Shelby). After hours of debate lasting until early the next morning, the bill was laid over on the Senate Informal Calendar.
The House also debated education reform. HB 349 sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofaneli (R-St. Peters) creates scholarship accounts that provide funds to be applied to private schools and also can cover costs for tutoring, computers, and summer education programs, to name a few. The House only debated the bill for a few hours before perfecting it by a narrow 1 vote margin (83-71). The final House vote on this measure was even closer, only passing by the required 82 vote margin. 

The bill sponsor added an amendment that establishes qualifying tiers for the scholarships (equal to the state adequacy target of approximately $6,300) as follows:
  1. students with "individualized education plans" OR students who qualify for free- and reduced-lunch
  2. students who live in households whole total income does not exceed 200% of the free- and reduced-lunch income standard
  3. all other students
In order to gain enough support for passage, the bill sponsor added a rural carve out and made the provisions only apply to counties with a charter form of government OR any city with a population of at least 30,000.

Under the provisions currently in HB 349, families in the following counties and cities would be eligible to reach scholarship funds:
  • Clay County
  • Jackson County
  • Jefferson County
  • St. Charles County 
  • St. Louis County
  • Springfield
  • Columbia
  • St. Joseph
  • St. Louis City
  • Joplin
  • Jefferson City
  • Cape Girardeau
Those combined counties and cities represent about 55% of the total Missouri population.

We expect more floor action by both chambers during the next two weeks as we get closer to the legislative spring break. 
For details on bill activity related to a workforce diploma program, career and technical education, A+ schools program, and protection of children, read our Missouri Capitol Report & Education Update for the week of February 22th.

And if that's not enough detail, check out the complete weekly wrap-up from GovWatch.

Budget Update

House Budget Chair Cody Smith filed all the appropriation bills this week. The House Appropriations subcommittees will begin markup next week. Smith also introduced HB 20, which provides for Medicaid expansion. 
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

Today is the committee deadline for all nonexempt bills. Both chambers will be on the floor all next week. 

New Education Omnibus Bill

A substitute for HB 2119 was proposed this week, offering a voucher to families of eligible children to access funding equal to the base state aid per pupil to pay for private school tuition and other expense. This bill incorporated the language from HB 2068, expanding tax credits for students to attend private schools and HB 2067, requiring school districts to allocate funding to ensure all students achieve specific goals. 

The bill includes a penalty for schools who keep students in remote learning for more than 40 days, a $500 bonus for all teachers with COVID-19 funds, and supports Governor Laura Kelly's budget, including additional funds for the Gannon settlement

Click here for more info.

Back to school on March 26th? 

The Senate Education Committee heard SB 235 this week, which would require schools to provide an in-person option to all students by March 26th. We expect debate next week. 

HB 2039
- the House Education Committee approved an amended version, requiring students to pass a civics test to graduate high school. 

HB 2371 - a bill removing cooperation with child support from requirements for food and childcare assistance and exempting adults enrolled in school from the 20-hour-per-week work requirement for child care assistance, was heard and passed out of the Committee on Children and Seniors

Childcare subsidy components of this bill are critical to workforce development, if Kansans in need can access the subsidy program, this ensures they can send their children to childcare while they work and/or complete their education. 

Aligned supports this bill as it offers our most vulnerable children access to food and childcare while their parents work or complete their education.

How that federal money flows

The First Five Years Fund put together a helpful two-pager that explains the numbers behind a mixed delivery system. 

Child Care and Development Block Grant
Head Start
Early Head Start
Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships
Child Care Access Means Parents in School
Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five
Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting
Individual with Disabilities

If you are tired of scratching your head over how the money flows and who benefits, 

Thanks to our awesome partner Jovanna Rohs at MARC for sharing this valuable resource. 

Next time you get our newsletter, it will be March - woo hoo! 

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442