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July Board Highlights

Posted: Jul 20, 2016
Author: Ann Bush

July board highlights

Co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teacher Vacancies and Supply offered several recommendations to Kansas State Board of Education members during a meeting Tuesday, July 12.

Rudy Perez, principal of Norton Community High School, and Ken Weaver, dean of the Teacher College at Emporia State University, served as co-chairs of the task force. The group was created in March by Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson to study teacher vacancies and supply and make recommendations to ensure there is a reduction of teaching vacancies in the state.

There were about 30 people who served on the task force, including superintendents, higher education representatives, human resource officers, teachers and school board members. The group had four three-hour meetings — one each in April and May and twice in June.

The group determined that 99.28 percent of all teacher positions were filled with qualified teachers in 2015-2016. There were 277 vacancies during that year, and of those most were in the southwest and north central regions of the state. They also concluded that the number of students majoring in teaching education in the state had dropped from 7,752 in 2011 to 5,279 in 2014. They also learned that 22 percent of Kansas teachers have less than five years of experience, and 40 percent have less than 10 years.

Data showed four immediate priorities to decrease vacancies and increase teacher supply:

  • Recruit teachers to rural communities and Kansas City, Kan., and Wichita.
  • Make teaching attractive to students and their parents.
  • Retain early career teachers.
  • Change the Work After Retirement KPERS rules to allow retired teachers, principals and superintendents to teach full time without loss of benefits or salary.

Immediate recommendations for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years include:

  • Convene a group of people to create and implement a public relations campaign to tell Kansans the inspirational stories of Kansas teachers.
  • Expand the restricted license to include elementary.
  • Create a three- to five-year license for out-of-state licensed teachers who may need to complete additional requirements for an initial or professional Kansas license.
  • Open the database of licensed individuals to allow superintendents and principals to search for people in their area who currently aren’t teaching.
  • Complete an analysis of teacher salaries by years of experience and region.
  • Maintain a Teacher Vacancy and Supply committee that can monitor teacher vacancy and supply data.
  • Add more steps on the pay scale to incentivize teachers to continue teaching rather than retire.
  • Provide $1,000 year stipends for teachers who earn the Teacher Leader endorsement.
  • Increase funding for teacher salaries.

Intermediate recommendations for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 include:

  • Offer financial incentives to attract student-teachers, such as free housing and a stipend.
  • Encourage paraeducators and substitute teachers to pursue licensure and/or education degrees.
  • Involve teachers in the development of recruitment and retention strategies.
  • Reinstate teacher due process.
  • Continue to present to students, parents and other community members in their respective communities the importance and value of becoming a Kansas educator.

Long-term recommendations for 2019-2020 and beyond include:

  • Fully utilize, monitor and keep accurate the Kansas Education Employment Board so it accurately reflects the current state of teacher vacancies in the state.

Deputy commissioner Brad Neuenswander gave board members an update on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). KSDE staff members continue to read and learn about the new law and the proposed regulations, he said.

The Kansas Elementary and Secondary Education Act Advisory Council will bring recommendations to the state board. The council is scheduled to meet in Wichita on July 26. The council has subcommittees working on specific components of ESSA, according to Neuenswander.

State ESSA plans can be submitted either March 6 or July 5, 2017, Neuenswander said. By the 2017-2018 school year, ESSA will be fully implemented.

Also on Tuesday, July 12, board members received information on Fredonia Unified School District 484 applying to become an Innovative District. The Coalition of Innovative Districts’ board earlier this year voted to begin accepting applications on a monthly basis instead of requiring districts to wait until Dec. 1 of each year to submit applications.

The coalition met June 23 in Salina and heard a presentation from USD 484, which was the only new district seeking innovative status. The coalition unanimously approved the request.

As defined by statute, the state board has 90 days to either grant or deny the authority to operate as an innovative district.

The current six approved Innovative School Districts are McPherson USD 418; Concordia USD 333; Kansas City USD 500; Blue Valley USD 229; Hugoton USD 201; and Marysville USD 364.

Board members also received an update on the Summer Food Service Program. Kelly Chanay, assistant director of Child Nutrition and Wellness, gave an overview of the program and shared some statistics. Kansas is working to increase access and participation of the program, Chanay said.

During the summer of 2015, there were 42,525 meals on average served each day in June. That number had dropped to 28,280 by July, Chanay said. Participation drops after July 4 because of family travel, end-of-summer school programs and weather conditions, she said.

The total number of sponsors, sites and meals served has increased steadily since 2011, according to information provided by Chanay.

On Wednesday, July 13, the board received an in-depth look at postsecondary completion and attendance from KSDE staff members during a three-hour work session.

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