TOPEKA — The House Appropriations Committee voted to insert in the budget for state universities a mandatory tuition rebate to students based on the number of classes taught online and the academic days dropped from the calendar during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time across the street in Topeka, the Kansas Board of Regents was involved in meetings to discuss how the six public universities would deal with a pandemic-driven revenue collapse by dropping academic programs, terminating employees or making other spending adjustments. The Board of Regents agreed to a request from the University of Kansas to extend until July 1 the deadline for deciding whether to utilize a new policy making it easier to dismiss tenured faculty in wake of a projected $72 million budget shortfall at KU.
Rep. Sean Tarwater, a Stillwell Republican who has objected to K-12 remote learning and asked if Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas, public school districts could be stripped of COVID-19 aid, triggered lively debate in the House budget committee by proposing state universities retroactively refund to students 100% of tuition for every day academic instruction was called off. In addition, his amendment would require a 50% tuition break for every course delivered online by the universities. The sanction wouldn’t apply to private colleges and universities nor the technical and community colleges.