Highlights of the March State Board of Education Meeting
TOPEKA—March 11, 2010—The Kansas State Board of Education met March 9, 2010, in the boardroom at the Kansas State Department of Education. All Board members were present.
Dr. Diane DeBacker, Interim Commissioner of Education began the meeting with her March report. DeBacker offered a brief update on the Common Core Standards (CCS) Initiative. In May, Kansas signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices to join the discussion of Common Core Standards in the areas of Math and English Language Arts. The Board voiced concern over the impact of CCS on National and State levels, and discussed at length how much flexibility is available to the state once adopted. A draft copy will be available for public review Wednesday, March 10, 2010.
The Board then heard a presentation from Dr. Julie Ford, Director of Title Programs and Services, regarding graduation requirements as requested by the Board during the February meeting. Ford reported the findings from a district survey, revealing results such as the average credits required for graduation, additional electives offered, and senior year arrangements. It was also recommended at this time not to increase or change graduation requirements. Several Board members expressed their disappointment in the current graduation requirements as well as the Department’s recommendation to keep them unchanged.
During the Citizen’s Open Forum, Shari Wilson of the Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education (KACEE) announced environmental education awardees and notified the Board of the upcoming 2010 Kansas Green Schools Conference.
Department Attorney Kevin Ireland presented a request from USD 398 Peabody Burns to approve the formation of a hearing panel in regards to their wish to withdraw from the #617 Marion County Special Education Cooperative, to which the Board approved.
Dr. Julie Ford then brought a Petition to Establish a Charter School to the Board for the Word of Life Traditional School for review. The Department did not recommend approval as a charter school at this time, and the Board moved to accept that recommendation.
Next the Board set a public hearing date for Tuesday, June 8, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. regarding the amendment of special education regulations. Immediately following, the board approved the request of the Kansas School for the Deaf-NEA to be recognized as the exclusive representative of the professional employees in the negotiating unit.
The afternoon began with a presentation by Jodi Mackey, Director of Child Nutrition and Wellness, and Roderick Bremby, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, on the two largest health concerns—tobacco and childhood obesity—and why these issues need to be addressed more aggressively in the schools. A lively discussion followed regarding the current School Wellness Policy and the recommendation of the Department to achieve the “exemplary” level by July 1, 2015.
Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis discussed with the Board Governor Parkinson’s fiscal year 2010 Budget Balancing Plan and budget recommendations, followed by a brief update on several education bills of interest in legislation. Information from a statewide survey was also presented which outlined areas each district could potentially reduce or eliminate if required, which opened the Board to talk about how these reductions would be implemented.
The next Board meeting will be April 13-14, 2010 in Topeka.