Rep. Dan Osman calls education bill passed by House a ‘ticking time bomb’ for JoCo schools

Each week during the 2022 Kansas legislative session, we will provide all Shawnee Mission area legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, the opportunity to share their thoughts about what’s happening in the state capitol.

Below is this week’s submission from Democratic Rep. Dan Osman of House District 48, which covers a segment of Overland Park.

Democratic Rep. Heather Meyer, Republican Rep. Owen Donohoe and Democratic Sen. Cindy Holscher were also offered the chance to submit columns this week.

The views expressed in each Capitol Update are solely those of the lawmaker and are not reflective of the Post’s position on any matter discussed.

If you’re like me, you’ve made the choice to live in Johnson County in part because of its robust public education system.

Whether you currently have kids attending, or you indirectly benefit because good schools bring great jobs, education is the true foundation of our thriving community. So it concerns me when the state Legislature passes legislation that’s a ticking time bomb for Blue Valley and all five of the public school systems in Johnson County.

House Bill 2615 allows K-12 students to transfer to and attend school in any school district in the state.

Here’s how it works. Say you’re a parent in Miami or Wyandotte counties. You want to send your child to the Blue Valley School District. First the district makes a determination by grade as to availability. Then, you fill out an application to come and your child now gets to attend classes for the year.

This law will create a convoluted mess that could either, a) take funding out of Johnson County schools to give to other districts, or b) require Johnson County schools to provide an education to students outside the county with no additional compensation or reimbursement.

In the example above, the parent continues to pay taxes in their home county, but it’s Johnson that absorbs all the local costs.

These costs aren’t just monetary. I’ve heard from too many teachers across Johnson County about how thin they’re stretched. They’re overworked. They’re underpaid. Their job requirements keep increasing with no end in sight.

Now, with this bill looming on the horizon, we may be asking them to take on increased class sizes with no additional resources provided. What will be their breaking point?

I’ve listened to all five superintendents of districts within Johnson County. Not a single one spoke in support of this bill.

HB 2615 passed by one of the closest margins this session: 63-59. It takes 63 votes to pass a bill on “final action,” meaning if even a single Johnson County legislator had switched their vote to no, I wouldn’t be writing about this.

Right now, there’s still a chance to turn this ship around.

First, the Senate hasn’t yet taken a vote on this bill. Even if it passes there, the House gets another crack at killing this legislation during veto session when we vote on the Conference Committee Report. That’s still a few weeks away.

Please check to see how your representative voted on HB 2615. If you feel as strongly about this topic as I do, I’d urge you to reach out to them and let them know your thoughts. We should all be here to represent our districts and the people within them.

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