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(Updated Dec. 2020)

During the 2021 General Assembly, KSBA will not be able to hold our normal LEAD Day event at the Capitol due to COVID-19 restrictions. We are asking our board members, superintendents and district finance officers to join together to “LEAD from the District” by holding meetings with their legislators. Meeting with legislators “back home” is often more impactful than a trek to Frankfort.
We are asking our boards to do three things:
  1. Hold meetings with your legislators.
  2. Work with your staff to create one-page summaries of your funding situations.
  3. Highlight your meetings with legislators on social media and to your district staff/families.
Explaining your unique local needs to your legislators is the best way to make a real difference – and this year we need legislators to understand your needs more than ever.
Legislator Meetings
Please invite your legislators to meet with you, either in person or via video. This could be a private meeting (so long as you have less than a quorum of board members) or you could invite them to a public board meeting, which is a great way for legislators to see all of the issues your board is facing. Consider having some of your staff and students demonstrate some of the teaching and learning that has been happening during the pandemic.
Some legislators cover many school districts, while some school districts have many legislators. In the interest of their time, it may be wise to coordinate your House and Senate members, and with other nearby school districts, to have joint meetings. To help with such planning, see a list of House and Senate members by school districts they represent, or that they are near.
Issues to Focus On
We recommend that you focus on funding. Legislators will take up a limited number of bills/issues this session because the most pressing bill will be the state budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2021. Many folks think that districts have saved a lot of money during the pandemic because of less spending on things such as transportation and utilities. However, we know districts have faced substantial increased costs for paid employee leave, COVID-19 mitigation efforts, purchasing new technology devices and more.
Some folks also may think you have received enough federal CARES Act funding to cover your needs, or that you haven’t spent it all yet so you must have enough. However, we know that is often not the case.
It is essential to explain these issues to your legislators, which is why we suggest that the single most important thing you can do to LEAD from the District is ask your district finance officer to prepare very brief and straightforward “one-pager” documents.
The documents should show what you have saved/spent this year due to COVID, what federal funds you have received and how you have spent them and your funding needs and expenses between now and June 30 and for next year. You should also explain how you were impacted by having December SEEK money supplanted by federal COVID money.
One expense that may not have hit yet is increased Unemployment Insurance (UI) reimbursements your district may have to pay for folks who have drawn UI going back to March. Another key figure to explain is the total amount of state funds your district has received over the last couple of years, which is often misunderstood.
Be sure to exchange your contact information with your legislators so that going forward they can reach out to you to ask, “is this true… what is it really like for you all?”
At the statewide level, KSBA’s 2021 Legislative Agenda focuses on funding, but also on a few other issues including legal liability protection for boards, districts and staff who are doing the best they can to keep our schools running during the pandemic.

When Should You Meet?
Schedule these meetings NOW for anytime between now and Feb. 2. We expect the legislators to be crafting the state budget, mostly in January. Part two of the session begins on Feb. 2 and then they will be in a mad rush through session. If we wait to get this information to them, it will be too late. 
Contacting Legislators
You may find contact information for your legislators, including their office assistants in Frankfort, at the Legislative Research Commission (LRC) website. You may also contact their Frankfort offices at 1-502-564-8100. Keep in mind that newly elected legislators will not appear on the LRC website yet, but the LRC staff will be able to help you get in touch with them for scheduling meetings once session begins on Jan. 5.
Building Awareness
It is important to showcase your advocacy with legislators. Take a picture during your meetings, or a screenshot of your ZOOM meeting, and share it on your district’s social media accounts to let your community know you are discussing these issues with your legislative partners. Tag your legislators too, this will help your constituents learn about your issues and encourage them to also reach out to legislators. 
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