Governor Kelly Signs Bipartisan Bill
Establishing the Kansas Blueprint for Literacy

— Governor Laura Kelly today signed Senate Bill 438, establishing the Kansas Blueprint for Literacy, a Literacy Advisory Committee, and directing the Kansas Board of Regents to appoint a Director of Literacy Education.

“The Kansas Blueprint for Literacy is an innovative piece of legislation that will transform how we prepare educators to teach reading and better equip our students with the literacy tools they need to succeed,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “This bill places Kansas at the forefront of nationwide efforts to reform reading instruction and expands on the progress we have been making to prioritize literacy throughout a child’s academic journey.”

The Kansas Blueprint for Literacy will redesign the teaching of reading to focus on evidence-based research including phonemic awareness, phonetics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The bill prioritizes a comprehensive approach to retrain Kansas educators in the science of reading, structured literacy, and literacy screening and assessment tools.

“For many years, the Kansas Legislature has recognized the solid science behind early literacy success for children. It requires early screening of children, solid teacher training in the science of reading, and classroom materials that support evidence-based practices,” said Kansas State Senator and Senate Education Committee Chair Molly Baumgardner, District 37. “I’m proud that the Blueprint for Reading is a collaborative effort that establishes a clear pathway for our current and future educators to be appropriately trained to teach Kansas students to read. It also creates the essential framework for an innovative and inclusive approach to assure accountability between higher education institutions, education advocates, school districts and parents.”

Senate Bill 438 also recognizes literacy as a priority in continuing Kansas’ unprecedented economic growth and developing a workforce equipped to meet the needs of business and industry. Under the bill, the Kansas Board of Regents will receive $10 million in additional funds to implement the Blueprint. This funding would cover the costs of retraining teachers in reading instruction best practices and preparing them to receive a Science of Reading micro-credential.

“The Kansas Blueprint for Literacy will prove to be one of the most important bills this Legislature and Governor authorized in 2024. Our students’ ability to read is fundamental to their life’s success – in their academic career and in their life beyond school” said Dr. Cindy Lane, Member, Kansas Board of Regents. “The Blueprint for Literacy is a clearly marked path with practical steps to which we will commit in postsecondary education to ensure our in-service teachers and pre-service teachers have the tools they need for success in the classroom. ”

Senate Bill 438 also calls for the creation of six regional Centers for Excellence in Reading, which the Board of Regents and state universities will collaborate to operate. These centers will provide assessment and diagnosis of reading difficulties, train in-service and pre-service educators through the use of simulation labs, and support the professional learning of school-based instructional coaches.

Additionally, Senate Bill 438 requires the Kansas Board of Regents to form the Literacy Advisory Committee and hire a Director of Literacy Education. The committee will include 15 voting and two non-voting members serving four-year terms. The committee will be charged with monitoring the progress of literacy training and designating best practices for teachers. The Director will work to implement and administer the Blueprint and ensure institutions make progress on these initiatives.

“As parents, we want the very best for our children and this bill ensures they get it,” said Melanie Haas, Chair, Kansas State Board of Education. “By aligning the efforts of K-12 and higher education to train our educators in the science of reading, we intend to end the literacy divide for our students once and for all.”

In addition to Senate Bill 438, Governor Kelly also signed the following bills:

Senate Bill 333: Enacts Kathy’s Bill, creating an employment preference for persons with disabilities for state employment. It also extends the state use law committee to July 1, 2029.

Senate Bill 410: Provides changes to the SALT Parity Act so business owners avoid being double taxed on income when electing to use a pass-through entity. It also provides property tax exemptions for certain new electric generation facilities and certain additions to electric generation facilities. The bill also clarifies land used for agritourism as agricultural land for property tax purposes. It also makes a number of technical changes to law regarding revenue neutral rate processes for local governments and other tax programs.

Senate Substitute for House Bill 2144: Makes encouraging another individual to attempt suicide a criminal offense and establishes criminal penalties for such instances. The bill also creates organized retail crime and, authorizes the attorney general to prosecute certain crimes that are part of alleged criminal conduct that occurred in two or more counties.

House Bill 2501: Requires that railroads in Kansas store train cars a minimum of 250 feet away from certain railroad crossings, enhancing railway safety and reducing opportunities for blocked crossings.

Substitute for House Bill 2570: Updates employment security law to ensure the integrity of the unemployment insurance system and balance employer contributions with their utilization of the system. The bill also extends certain statutory provisions necessary to complete the modernization of Kansas’ unemployment insurance software.

House Bill 2760: Renames the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Office (KCVAO) to the Kansas Office of Veterans Services (KOVS) and updates statute to reflect that name change and transfer all duties and authority to the newly named office. The bill also amends grant requirements for the Veterans Claims Assistance Program to require applicants have a presence at the federal VA regional office or medical center in Wichita in order to be eligible for a grant.