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Minutes for SB32 - Committee on Education

Short Title

Authorizing school districts to pay the tuition for a student's dual or concurrent enrollment in a postsecondary educational institution and requiring a tuition waiver for foster children who are dually or concurrently enrolled.

Minutes Content for Wed, Jan 27, 2021

Chairperson Baumgardner opened the hearing on SB32.

Tamera Lawrence, Assistant Revisor, Office of the Revisor of Statutes, briefed the Committee on the bill. (Attachment 1)

Terrell Davis, Executive Director of Public Affairs and Special Projects, USD #259 Wichita Public Schools, stood in support of this bill and explained why this bill is important to his school district, students and their families. Mr. Davis told of the students who are considered in the "bubble", the ones who are in the middle academically, have potential, but could easily fall through the cracks. They sit in classrooms making anywhere from a 2.5 to 3.0 GPA, get in trouble from time to time, not because they are bad kids, but because they are bored. USD 259 currently has the Early College Program which captures them and inspires them to see that they can become whatever they desire, they are good enough! This program is now in year 2 and has 98 students enrolled with a 90% success rate with only 2 students out of 100 who enrolled having to drop out of the program. Next year the plan is for the original cohort to start taking college classes at Friends University and if this bill passes, they would finalize a plan for a second program to launch at Wichita State University. The school district is serious about removing obstacles and helping students to conquer remaining obstacles on their way to obtaining a college degree or a career of their field of choice.

The district is not asking for additional money but for the local authority to pay for tuition for these students. We must look at lifting all students to the best they can be. (Attachment 2)

Dr. Blake Flanders, President and CEO, Kansas Board of Regents, submitted testimony supporting the bill which would permit school districts to pay for qualified high school students in grades 10-12 to attend a postsecondary institution. Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take courses and to receive both high school and college credit.

According to research compiled by the Education Commission of the States, a wealth of data underscores the benefits of dual enrollment programs, particularly for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education in the United States. Data suggests that dually enrolled students share the following characteristics:

  • More likely to meet college-readiness benchmarks
  • more likely to enter college and enter shortly after high school graduation
  • Lower likelihood of placement into remedial English or math
  • Higher first-year grade point average (GPA)
  • Higher second-year retention rates
  • Higher four- and six-year college completion rates
  • Shorter average time to bachelor's degree completion for those completing in six years or less

This bill which would allow school districts to pay for tuition and related costs for a student to enroll in the postsecondary institution is a great step forward in providing greater access for Kansans to get a head start on their postsecondary education. (Attachment 3)

Mark Tallman, Associate Executive Director, Kansas Association of School Boards(KASB), appeared as a proponent of this bill based on four policy positions adopted by their Delegate Assembly. Under the goal of preparing students to be economically successful, KASB takes two positions: address students affected by COVID-related disruptions in learning and support school redesign principles and programs to improve college and career readiness. Under the goal of helping students be successful as individuals, KASB has the position to improve educational outcomes for the growing numbers of students in foster care or homeless. To support student success, KASB has the position to support local decision making. SB32 responds to each of these positions.

Dual or concurrent enrollment is a proven way to encourage students to get a head start in postsecondary education by allowing students to receive college credit at the same time they finish high school. KASB knows that cost of tuition and fees for these programs can be a barrier to low-income students whose education has been set back because of the COVID-19 pandemic and that foster care students face even greater barriers in accessing postsecondary education and KASB supports the provisions for a tuition waiver for such students.

KASB also supports the fact that this bill is permissive for local districts. The bill allows local school boards to decide how much, if any, of these costs should be borne by the district and to negotiate with postsecondary institutions for appropriate rates. (Attachment 4)

Jason P. Watkins, Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, supports authorizing school districts to pay the tuition for a student's dual or concurrent enrollment in a postsecondary educational institution and requiring a tuition waiver for foster children who are dually or concurrently enrolled. The current statute allows high school students to attend secondary educational institutions while in high school, but school districts are prohibited from paying the costs associated with said educational institutions.

The Chamber stands in strong support of this bill because it is believed to be sound public policy that benefits both students and Kansas job creators that are desperate for trained and educated workers. (Attachment 5)

Heather Morgan, Executive Director, Kansas Association of Community College Trustees (KACCT), stated KACCT supports the K-12 system being able to both pay for students taking college classes and to transport students to properly accedited institutions of high education such as Kansas Community Colleges. This bill provides a critical access path for these students, enabling them to take college classes while still in high school.

One thing to note is that the foster care youth who would have their tuition waived under the bill would be an unfunded mandate for the colleges. It waives the fees for students but the college does not receive any tuition for that student from any source.

While supportive of the bill, KACCT suggests a few friendly amendments to the transferability of courses portion of the bill. This section is particularly important to ensure that the course will transfer. On page 3, line 27 a technical amendment maybe needed to indicate transferability to an in-state postsecondary institution. Also on page 4, KACCT believes this wording may have unintended consequences given some changes with how KBOR has been handling technical courses and programs in the last year. While we believe this section is trying to carve out SB155/Excel in CTE classes, there are technical education classes which the bill intends to exclude from payment, therefore an amendment may need to be considered to clarify that no class that is covered though SB155 should be paid for rather than saying no techincal education classes may be funded by the USD. If the bill's intent is to ensure the current SB155/Excel in CTE process stays in place, all other courses could be funded by the bill, a clarification is needed. (Attachment 6)

Written proponent testimony was submitted by:

Matt Lindsey, President, Kansas Independent College Association and Foundation (Attachment 7)

Deena Horst and Ben Jones, Legislative Liaisons, Kansas State Board of Education (Attachment 8)

Eric Stafford, Vice President of Government Affairs, Kansas Chamber (Attachment 9)

Tanya Keys, Deputy Secretary, Kansas Department of Children and Families (Attachment 10)

The Chair closed the hearing on SB32.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:39 PM.

The next Senate Education Committee will be January 28, 2021, 1:30 PM, Room 144-S.