School Efficiency Task Force Release Recommendations

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Reviews of the teacher contract negotiation process, school district administrative structures, purchasing policies and state obligations on school construction bonds are among a dozen recommendations from the Governor’s School Efficiency Task Force.

The task force issued its final recommendations Monday. Gov. Sam Brownback formed the group to study the dollars that go to k-thru-12 education might be spent more efficiently, with more funding getting to the classrooms.

“It is our hope that this report will assist the Governor and the Kansas Legislature in their policymaking decisions, and that it will result in more efficient and effective Kansas public schools," Task Force Chairman Ken Willard said in a statement issued with the report.

The task force began meeting last October. Its finding are expected to garner attention as lawmakers tackle how they'll react to a Shawnee Co. District Court ruling earlier this month that found how the state funded public education was unconstitutional.

Among the group's recommendations:
*Establish a two-year school funding cycle.
*Timely transfer of state payments to school districts in June and January.
*Re-evaluate the state’s open-ended obligation to equalize school construction bond issues
*Study implementing a state data management and accounting system that is integrated with K-12 school systems and post-secondary institutions
*Restructure operating parameters associated with the Capital Outlay Fund
*Revise/narrow the Professional Negotiations Act to give districts more operational flexibility
*Legislatively eliminate, reduce and consolidate the statutory cash reserve accounts and separate fund accounts so they can be more broadly spent across educational requirements, also allowing some year-to-year carryover
*Study school district administration personnel structures and positions
*Require that a university level finance/accounting/budget management course be included in the district leadership licensing requirements
*Establish a commonly-accepted definition of “instruction” spending and review the 65% public policy goal figure.
*Limit duration of due process proceedings for special education
*Conduct an efficiency study/audit of the Kansas State Department of Education

The task force report also includes several "best practice" suggestions for improving efficiencies in the educational system. Those include negotiating statewide contracts for items like office supplies and building materials; utilizing the State Library of Kansas statewide database subscription to access learning resources and tutorials; and conduct energy audits to realize utility savings.

The task force listened to presentations from those in the education field, including the Kansas Dept. of Education, and heard feedback from teachers, district officials and board members from around the state in developing their report.

"Their insight on how we can get more money into our Kansas classrooms will benefit generations of students to come. I look forward to working with legislators, parents, teachers and administrators in putting these recommendations into practice,” Brownback said.

The complete report is attached.