Kansas effort to improve computer science education signed into law

TOPEKA — A new law signed Tuesday by Gov. Laura Kelly seeks to promote computer science education in Kansas schools.

The measure enacts the Promoting Advancement in Computing Knowledge Act, which requires each secondary school to offer at least one computer science course beginning in the 2023-24 school year. Alternatively, those schools operating under a school district can submit a plan to the State Board of Education describing how the district intends to offer a computer science course and when they intend to offer it.

In addition, House Bill 2466 requires the State Board to submit an annual report to the Legislature each January until 2025 detailing the success of the programs.

The legislation also creates a pilot program that covers credential exam costs, in addition to helping students with career and technical education backgrounds transition into the workforce.

“By expanding computer science education and creating this transition program, we can better retain the skilled workforce Kansas produces through our K-12 schools,” Kelly said. “In addition, it signals to companies looking to build or expand their business that Kansas is the place to do it.”

Representatives approved the computer science effort by 109-10 last month, as did senators by 29-6.

Also provided in the law are scholarships for those in rural areas and underrepresented socioeconomic groups to obtain educator training in computer science. The Computer Science Pre-service Educator Program allows the Kansas Board of Regents to provide scholarships of up to but not exceeding $1,000 for pre-service teachers working toward their degrees in elementary or secondary education.

HB 2466 provides scholarships for educators in rural areas and underrepresented socioeconomic groups to obtain computer science education training.

“HB2466 will bring much-needed resources and training to our teachers,” said Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center. “With that, more classes will be offered, allowing students to gain the computer science skills they need for today’s workforce demands.”

Kelly also signed into law House Bill 2138, a package of election law modifications including the requirement that all voting systems use paper ballots with a distinctive watermark. Advocacy groups and legislators opposing this bill argue the watermark is a considerable unfunded mandate.

The measure also creates a new reason for county election officers to send a confirmation of address notice when there is no election-related activity from a registered voter for four years. If the notice is returned as “undeliverable” or there is no response, the person would be removed from the voter roll according to Clay Barker, deputy assistant secretary of state.

“We don’t want to remove people just because they haven’t voted, but not voting combined with the card is an indication that they have likely moved,” Barker said during a February hearing on the bill.

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