When seven Kansas school districts became Mercury 7 schools in August 2017, there was no manual in place to guide them on their journey.
Now, thanks to experiences from the Mercury 7 and Gemini I districts, as well as input from service centers and other educational organizations, guidance will be available as other districts join in redesigning education in Kansas.
On Friday, Feb. 2, representatives from Greenbush Southeast Education Service Center; Smoky Hill Education Service Center; Orion Education and Training; Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas (ESSDACK); Southwest Plains Regional Service Center; Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB); Kansas National Education Association (KNEA); Every Person Inspired to Create (EPiC); and other Kansas school districts gathered in Topeka to work on the redesign "Flight Manual."
The manual will help new districts during the redesign process by offering a timeline, resources and protocols to follow.
"This will really help clarify for districts what redesign means," said Bart Swartz, a director of administrative services at Greenbush who is serving on the Flight Manual committee.
Swartz is "100 percent supportive" of redesign because there are several districts that already want to do something different but may not know how to proceed, he said.
"This opens the door for them," Swartz said.
Kansas isn't doing anything wrong in its current education system, he said.
"We're not doing anything bad," Swartz said. "Nothing is wrong. But you can always take the good and make it a lot better."
Friday's meeting was the third time the group has met. Other meeting dates were Jan. 5 and Jan. 22.
During the meeting, committee members worked on a timeline for districts. Committee members broke into smaller groups and wrote their ideas onto sticky notes. The notes were then attached to larger sheets that represented months of the year.
The group will continue to meet the first Friday of every month, with the group meeting next on March 2.
Swartz volunteered for the committee because he believes in the redesign process and wants to help districts. Greenbush offers support to 120 of Kansas' 286 school districts, he said.
"This really allows us to better serve them and to better serve the whole state," Swartz said.
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