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2 USD 204 board members would be unable to serve under proposed law

October 7, 2015

A proposed state law that would increase limitations on who could serve on boards of education likely would have a big impact on local school boards.

A Legislative committee is seeking information about what would happen if spouses or relatives of school employees aren't allowed to serve on school boards. The Kansas Legislative Research Department sent out a survey to school board members throughout the state last month asking about the issue.

According to the Wichita Eagle, researcher Martha Dorsey says the request came initially from a committee that will be reviewing the effect of a bill that was introduced during the past session and tabled, HB 2345.

The bill would restrict a person from serving on a local school board if his or her spouse, parent or sibling worked for any school district in the state. The bill also would restrict people who conduct business with school districts from serving on their local school boards.

The text in the survey identifies such relationships or business dealings as “conflicts of interest.”

The Bonner Springs-Edwardville USD 204 board members filled their surveys out at their Monday meeting and two board members would definitely have a conflict: Board President Patricia Welicky has a sibling who works for another district, while past Board President Tim McGinnis works for the Olathe school district.

Another board members had a relative that didn’t seem to fall under the survey parameters, as it doesn’t ask board members if they have a child employed by a Kansas school district. Board member David Pierce has a stepdaughter employed by USD 204.

Another board member had a near miss — David Toland’s mother recently retired as a teacher.

The USD 204 board agreed that all this goes to show how problematic and limiting the passage of such a law would be.

Dan Brungardt, superintendent, said it is especially hard for districts in smaller towns. Even in USD 204, which covers three cities, the district makes an effort to purchase services from local businesses, so the prohibition about those with a “substantial interest in a business that works directly with or provides services to the State of Kansas or my own school district” would be problematic.

Brungardt added that officials with the Kansas Association of School Boards have stated the law is unconstitutional and would be challenged in the courts if passed.

David Howard, USD 458 superintendent, said he plans to give the Basehor-Linwood school board members their surveys at next week’s meeting, though he agreed the law would be challenged in the courts.

“I'm not sure how many of our members would have a conflict, but I'm sure it would affect some of them,” he said. “It is a ridiculous request.”

The surveys must be returned to the state by Oct. 16.

Originally published at: http://www.bonnersprings.com/news/2015/oct/07/2-usd-204-board-members-would-be-unable-serve-unde/