Blair monitors bills affecting ‘local control’ of schools | Education

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Principals are busy supervising classes and students. But at this time of year, they also have to check out Topeka once in a while.

North Lyon County Superintendent Robert Blair briefed the school board last week on several bills he is monitoring. One would allow homeschool and private school students to participate in school district extracurricular activities.

“It’s been a struggle,” said board chairman Matt Horton. “It’s been allowed for years, but it’s not mandatory.”

Horton noted that in a few cases, students entered the $251 system after participating in events such as sports.

“That could be positive,” Horton said. But he said it could also be a financial headache, as well as questions about students’ responsibility for getting their grades.

House Bill 2511 received a committee hearing two weeks ago, but has yet to move forward.

Another bill Blair is watching would allow parents to transfer their children to any school district in Kansas. A district should accept them if they have room in the child’s grade level.

“Right now this council has local control,” Blair explained. “If an out-of-district student applies, in our handbook we have a protocol that says we’ll check your attendance, your grades, your behavior, your test scores.”

Some Wichita-area school districts have been running student recruitment ads for years. Horton expressed concern that a state policy requiring the district to accept transfers could spiral out of control.

“Often times there are advantages to small schools — small class sizes,” Horton said. “It’s about helping them. But it can also be a real financial burden.

Either way, Blair’s main concern is who really controls school policies.

“It’s really your local control,” Blair said.

House Bill 2553 is also at committee stage. She had a hearing on Tuesday, February 1.

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