Shawnee Mission lobbyist cites gun bill as among most significant of session

A wide-ranging gun bill that passed the Kansas Legislature last week specifically excludes schools from being forced to either add security measures at their entrances or allow weapons to be carried into the building. That exclusion was identified by Shawnee Mission School District lobbyist Stuart Little during a presentation to the school board Monday as one of the more significant developments affecting schools this session.

Dr. Stuart Little
With the Legislature in recess until the veto session, a number of bills are still alive that could have an impact on school districts. State Rep. Melissa Rooker said the session was more noted for school-related bills that did not pass. Several bills were introduced, she said, that would have had a detrimental effect on schools and shifted money to private education.

The gun bill allows the possession of firearms in state and municipal buildings unless “adequate security measures” are in effect at the entrances. The bill, on its way to the governor for a signature, also allows school districts to determine if they will allow employees with concealed-carry permits to carry their concealed weapons in the building. The conference committee report on the bill with an outline of its provisions can be found here.

Little’s report to the Shawnee Mission School Board also noted the innovative districts bill which will allow up to 28 districts across the state to be exempt from most state laws (except open meetings and open records) in order to achieve higher outcomes. That means they could even use non-certified teachers, Little said.

A proposal from the governor’s office for retention at third grade based on reading abilities was watered down to apply to districts with the lowest reading levels and now calls for the creation of a standard test for first graders.

A number of bills could be revived in the veto session, Little said, including one that allows corporate tax credits for special education scholarship contributions to private schools. The legislature will return on May 8 for the veto session.