Two pieces of legislation working through the Kansas Legislature

Dear Editor,

I’m writing today to bring awareness to two pieces of legislation working through the Kansas Legislature currently. Both HB2514 and SB387 look to revise the open enrollment provisions of KSA 72-3123, put into law last year. This law allows Kansas students the opportunity to enroll in a school system in which they do not reside. Fortunately, our rural districts have generally allowed this open enrollment for the benefit of families that have connection to a school district outside of their residence. Local school districts have had to establish policy for capacity, good standing requirements, timelines, etc… On the surface open enrollment seems like a good thing, especially in districts with declining enrollment like USD 113. However, for my family and many others who attend growing districts reaching capacity, like USD 115, our children are now in jeopardy of being forced into a lottery system for open seats available to non-resident students. This could mean that one or both of my twins, who’ve attended Nemaha Central since their Kindergarten year of 2013, may not be able to complete their senior year in their school. I can’t imagine uprooting them from friends, teachers, activities and the environment of the only school they’ve known, outside of preschool in Bern. We’ve been uprooted once when USD 113 closed Bern, creating the migration of most Bern students to Seneca. This is the reality that our family and dozens of others in USD 115 currently face. I encourage everyone today to reach out to our legislators, asking for them to support these bills that amend the current language to allow non-resident students in good standing, to continue annual enrollment and be exempt from a lottery process. As I’ve listened to testimony at the state house, “unintended consequences” keep getting discussed and this law has that very thing for many families like mine who educate our children out of district, in the community that we are connected to for reasons of geography, work, trade, worship, healthcare, family, etc… I’d be remiss to not point out that this would not be an issue for the Bern families if USD113 would not continue to hold hostage our property and not honor the promises made for “land to follow the students” when the Bern School was closed. Please help our families by contacting our legislators and encouraging their support for these bills.

Ross Mosteller

Bern

 

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