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Kansas State Board of Education January highlights: Board members learn details about Gemini II project during meeting

Posted: Jan 12, 2018
Author: Ann Bush

Another phase of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project was announced by Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at the Kansas State Board of Education meeting in Topeka.

The application process for Gemini II, another facet of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, will begin Feb. 5 and close April 2, Watson said.

All school districts across Kansas will now have the chance to participate through the Gemini II Project. Like the Mercury 7 districts and the first Gemini project, Gemini II districts must agree to redesign one elementary and one secondary school around the five outcomes established by the State Board of Education, the five elements identified as defining a successful high school graduate, and what Kansans said they want schools to provide students.

Those districts applying to take part in Gemini II also must have approval by their local school board with a public vote, faculty support with a vote of 80 percent, and support from the Kansas National Education Association or other professional organization.

More information and the application will be available soon on the KSDE website, www.ksde.org.

During the meeting, Watson also gave board members an update about where the Kansas State Department of Education is at with Kansas’ consolidated plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act. Kansas’ goal is to be compliant with the federal law, and KSDE submitted a plan with clarifications to the United States Department of Education by Dec. 28. The Department of Education asked for more clarifications, and KSDE is currently in the process of providing those clarifications. The Department of Education has until Jan. 18 to accept the plan.

State Board of Education members approved recommendations for the Kansas State Schools for the Deaf and Blind. The schools will have enhanced communications with the State Board of Education, said Jon Harding, interim superintendent of the State School for the Blind. The schools also will have quarterly updates around their goals and will offer revamped agendas for board visits and regular meetings with the board’s liaison.

Luanne Barron, interim superintendent of the State School for the Deaf, discussed redesigning administrative structures. The proposed administrative structure included a superintendent for each school. There would be two head teachers, a director of outreach and a dean of student life at the State School for the Deaf. The State School for the Blind would have a director of outreach and dorm and an early childhood/family outreach coordinator. The schools would share a chief of operations/technology, director of human resources, director of finance, food services director and a grounds/maintenance director.

The savings at the School for the Deaf will be about $353,000, and at the School for the Blind savings will be $125,470, the superintendents said.

The State Board of Education approved the recommendation of the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee for a two-year pilot of alternative pathways for elementary education and high incidence special education, including issuance of a Limited Apprentice license to eligible candidates.

KSDE’s Susan Helbert, assistant director of Teacher Licensure and Accreditation, discussed the alternative pathways before the board voted.

With the elementary education alternative pathway, the applicant will need a degree and a district will have to identify a candidate. The applicant must verify enrollment in an approved elementary program and complete a field experience while enrolled in coursework in the fall semester (or first semester of the program). The applicant will be issued a limited apprentice license in the spring semester (or second semester of the program/hire). The applicant must complete the entire program within two years.

The special education alternative pathway looks similar to the elementary education pathway. The applicant must have a degree and be identified by a district. The applicant must have served at least one year as a paraprofessional and be able to verify enrollment in an approved program for high incidence special education. The applicant will continue as a paraprofessional and complete six to nine credit hours during the fall semester or first semester of the program. The applicant will be issued a limited apprentice license in the spring semester or second semester of the program/hire. The applicant will be required to complete the entire program within two years.

In Tuesday’s afternoon session, the Kansas Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC), which serves as a liaison between the statewide populace and the State Board of Education, gave the board the SEAC annual report. Dr. Marvin Miller, SEAC chair for the 2016-2017 school year, shared the report. SEAC advises the State Board on issues relevant to the area of education supports and services for students ages 3 to 21 with disabilities.

The board also received an update from staff members of the Heartspring School, which is a nonprofit day and residential school. Students are ages 5 to 21 and come from across the United States. They are impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental disabilities, cognitive impairments or multiple disabilities. There are 67 students, including 12 from Kansas. There are eight enrolled in the day-only program and 59 enrolled in the residential program.

Heartspring students during the 2017-2018 school year each received an Individual Plan of Study, which is one of the board’s outcomes to measure the success of the vision.

The State Board of Education recognized the five 2017 Kansas Blue Ribbon Schools, which were honored in November at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The Kansas Blue Ribbon Schools are:

  • Eisenhower Elementary School, Geary County Unified School District 474, principal Susan Kamphaus.
  • Gardner Elementary School, Gardner-Edgerton USD 231, principal Jason Watkins.
  • Ruth Clark Elementary School, Haysville USD 261, principal Carla Wulf.
  • Sheridan Elementary School, Geary County USD 475, principal Dorothy Coleman.
  • Wineteer Elementary School, Derby USD 260, principal Melissa Young.

Principals and other staff members from each school shared the work they have done to raise student achievement at their schools. The award is based on the school’s overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

State Board members voted to submit Professional Practices Commission regulations to the Department of Administration and the Kansas Attorney General’s Office for review. The regulations will come back to the State Board of Education in the future so they can see what changes the Department of Administration and the Attorney General’s Office recommend.

KSDE’s Dr. Catherine Chmidling reviewed higher education program standards for Family and Consumer Sciences, grades six through 12. The revised standards will come before the board in February for approval.

The meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 10, began with a report and presentation by Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSO). KSDE’s Stacy Smith introduced the eight presidents of various career and technical student organizations. They represent the 23,400 students involved in CTSOs across Kansas.

Student organizations represented were Kansas Business Professionals of America, DECA, Future Business Leaders of America, FFA, HOSA, SkillsUSA and the Technology Student Association. Two people also represented the future Kansas National Educators Rising group.

KSDE’s Colleen Riley, director of the Early Childhood, Special Education and Title Services, and Myron Melton, a KSDE education program consultant, shared an update from the School Mental Health Advisory Council, which was formed in July 2017. The Council advises the State Board of Education on unmet needs and coordinates with legislators, stakeholders and statewide collaborative partnerships.

The Council first met in August 2017 and meets monthly.

Twenty percent of children and youth have an identified need for mental health services but only one-third of these children receive services, Melton said. For children who do receive mental health services, more than 70 percent receive the service from their school.

In meeting the State Board of Education’s social-emotional character development goal, the Council has established five strategies:

  • Comprehensive integrated policy framework.
  • Collaborative coordinated continuum of resources.
  • Increased access to licensed staff for student support.
  • Stakeholder partnerships and network development.
  • Coordinated funding approaches.

The Advisory Council has been working to develop an integrated, comprehensive school mental health training resource that addresses trauma; trauma-related prevention and intervention strategies; school response to trauma-related events and mandated reporting; and framework for delivery of resources.

The Council also has been working on strengthening state and regional partnerships, and several partners are helping with the work, including KSDE, the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department of Corrections (Juvenile Justice), Department of Children and Families and community mental health centers.

The Council has established a five-year plan to develop a school mental health personnel plan. There are four objectives: scaling up school capacity; implementing tiered mental health interventions; structured processes for community partnerships; and systemic resources replicated statewide.

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