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Kansas State Board January highlights: Two new board members, three reelected board members take part in swearing-in ceremony

Five Kansas State Board of Education members took part in a ceremonial swearing-in Tuesday, Jan. 12, via Zoom.

Newly elected board members are Betty Arnold, District 8, and Melanie Haas, District 2. Other board members re-elected are Ann Mah, District 4, Dr. Deena Horst, District 6, and Jim McNiece, District 10.

Jim Porter, District 9, was named chairman, and Janet Waugh, District 1, was named vice chair. Horst and Ben Jones, District 7, were named legislative liaisons.

Board members also voted on Board Policy Committee members. Jean Clifford, District 5, Horst and Betty Arnold, District 8, were nominated for the Board Policy Committee. Clifford will serve as chair of the committee.

Mark Ferguson, with Gates Shields Ferguson Swall Hammond P.A., of Overland Park, was approved as the State Board attorney. Peggy Hill was approved as State Board secretary.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson gave his commissioner’s report. He shared that he had an opportunity Jan. 7 to congratulate 32 first-year educators as Horizon Award winners.

The Kansas Horizon Award program, sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE), gives all school districts in the state an opportunity to nominate one elementary and one secondary teacher for the award. To be eligible for the award, teachers must have successfully completed their first year of teaching and have performed in such a way as to distinguish themselves as outstanding.

The program is a regional competition with four regions corresponding to the state’s U.S. congressional districts. Four elementary and four secondary classroom teachers may be selected for the award from each region.

Board members approved the recommended performance levels and cut scores for the Kansas English Language Proficiency Assessments (KELPA) for students in grades kindergarten through 12th.

Neal Kingston, director of the Achievement Institute (AAI) and a professor of psychology and research at the University of Kansas, gave a presentation on performance level and cut score recommendations for KELPA at the board’s meeting in December. AAI conducted the standard-setting process. Kingston returned in January to answer any additional questions that board members had.

These performance levels and cut scores will be applied to the KELPA assessments administered for the first time in February 2020.

The board reviewed system recommendations from the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) for Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA).

ARC recommended the following schools for accreditation:

  • Coffeyville Unified School District 445
  • Curé of Ars
  • St. Thomas Aquinas
  • John Paul II Elementary School

The following schools were recommended to be Conditionally Accredited:

  • St. Paul Elementary School
  • Our Lady of Unity


Mischel Miller, director of Kansas State Department of Education’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) team, and Jeannette Nobo, assistant director of TLA, were available to answer questions.

During the 2019-2020 school year, 29 systems were scheduled for accreditation. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some accreditation visits were postponed or delayed. Ultimately, 23 systems went through the accreditation review by ARC members. Because of this, the State Board has been receiving systems for review and action throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

To highlight the Kansans Can initiative, two districts – represented by Cindy Couchman, superintendent at Buhler USD 313, and Rhonda Trimble, executive director of elementary education for Hutchinson USD 308 – shared how they used the “Navigating Change” document when planning for the 2020-221 school year.

“Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations” is a 1,000-plus page guidance document that was created with input from educators, stakeholders, medical professionals and school personnel to help schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State Board accepted a report from the School Mental Health Advisory Council (SMHAC) on the implementation of the Bullying Task Force recommendations.

Kathy Busch, chair of the School Mental Health Advisory Council, gave an overview of the SMHAC and the report. Myron Melton, a coordinator for KESA on the KSDE TLA team, gave a presentation on what was included in the report.

The SMHAC advises the State Board of Education on issues related to school mental health. The council formed five committees to research and provide implementation guidance for the recommendations. The report summarizes the considerations of the SMHAC subcommittees’ work in the form of guidance for Kansas school districts around the statutory definitions related to bullying, cyberbullying, data collection, prevention and resources.

SMHAC’s guidance to implement recommendations from the Bullying Task Force include:

  • Local boards of education adopting strong prevention policies.
  • Local boards of education assuring effective district policy implementation.
  • Districts supporting data-informed implementation across pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Districts adopting prevention-focused evidence-based practices.
  • Districts and families establishing common expectations.
  • Strengthening digital citizenship competencies.
  • KSDE making a legal requirement training module available.
  • PreK-12 district plans result in effective bullying prevention.
  • KSDE supports align with Bullying Prevention Plan Toolkit components.


The SMHAC report will be made available on the KSDE website.

The launch plans of four redesign schools were accepted by the board.

Kansans Can School Redesign schools that were approved for launch during the 2020-2021 school year are Ell-Saline Elementary School, Ell-Saline USD 307 (Apollo); Wiley Elementary School and Hutchinson STEM Magnet School at Allen, Hutchinson USD 308 (Apollo); and Stafford Middle-High School, Stafford USD 349 (Gemini II).

The schools participated in regional redesign workshops and were “cleared for launch” by a third-party Launch Readiness Committee made up of representatives from KSDE and Educational Service Centers.

The board adopted a resolution establishing the 2021 calendar of board meeting dates, time and location. Regular meetings begin at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday and 9 a.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. Board members meet at the Landon State Office Building, 900 S.W. Jackson St., Suite 102, in Topeka. Virtual meetings, when necessary, are conducted via video conference and livestreamed for the public.

Meeting dates are Feb. 9-10, March 9-10, April 13-14, May 11, May 12 (annual visits to Kansas School for the Blind and Kansas School for the Deaf), June 8-9, July 13-14, Aug. 10-11, Sept. 14-15, Oct. 12-13, Nov. 9-10 and Dec. 14-15.

KSDE’s Stacy Smith and Natalie Clark updated the board on the collaboration between the intergovernmental agencies through the Governor’s Council on Education regarding Work-Based Learning (WBL). Board members heard about specific subcommittee work, important connections between students’ Individual Plans of Study (IPS) and WBL experiences, as well as other initiatives to help ensure success toward their educational and career goals.

Elected state leaders from Career Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) across the state made presentations to board members in honor of Citizenship Day.

Students taking part were:

  • Michael Owens, Business Professionals of America, Shawnee Mission Northwest 512.
  • Maya Wagstaff, DECA (formerly called Distributive Education Clubs of America), Leavenworth High School, Leavenworth USD 453.
  • Kaylie Reese, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Wellsville High School, Wellsville USD 353.
  • Emilie Crowley, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Tonganoxie High School, Tonganoxie USD 464.
  • Elizabeth Sturgis, Future Farmers of America (FFA), Riverton High School (graduate), Riverton USD 404.
  • Joseph Lee, Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), Pittsburg High School, Pittsburg USD 250.
  • Allie Brodbeck, SkillsUSA, Winfield High School, Winfield USD 465.
  • Abby Otten, Technology Student Association (TSA), Basehor-Linwood High School, Basehor-Linwood USD 458.


The student officers talked about how skills they learned through these CTSOs has helped them cope better during the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Board of Education members announced the 2021-2023 State Board Committee Assignments. The committee/organization and state board representative for each are:

  • Agriculture in the Classroom: Ben Jones.
  • Charter and Virtual Education Advisory Council: Michelle Dombrosky.
  • Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force: Janet Waugh.
  • Coordinating Council: Ann Mah and Jean Clifford.
  • Education Commissioner of the States: Jim McNiece.
  • Kansas Alliance for Arts in Education: Melanie Haas.
  • Kansas Association for Conservation and Environmental Education: Haas.
  • Kansas Council for Economic Education: Betty Arnold.
  • Kansas Foundation for Excellence/Kansas Teacher of the year: Deena Horst.
  • Kansas Learning First Alliance: Dombrosky.
  • Kansas Master Teacher Award Selection Committee: Jones.
  • Kansas School for the Deaf/Kansas National Education Association Bargaining Team: Dombrosky.
  • Liaison to Kansas State School for the Blind: Haas
  • Liaison to Kansas School for the Def: Dombrosky
  • Professional Standards Board Liaison: Clifford.
  • School Mental Health Advisory Council: Clifford.
  • School Redesign Advisory Committee: Arnold and Mah.
  • Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC): McNiece.
  • Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee: Arnold and Clifford.
  • Governor’s Education Council: McNiece and Porter.
  • Interstate Migrant Education Council: Clifford.
  • Kansas Advisory Committee for CTE: Mah.
  • Kansas Alliance for Education Advocacy: Porter.
  • Kansas Volunteer Commission: Jones.
  • National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE): McNiece.
  • NASBE Public Education Positions Committee: Horst.
  • NASBE Whole Child Study Group: Arnold.
  • Attorney General’s Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee: Waugh.
  • Capital Improvement (bond and interest) State Aid Review: Porter.
  • Communications Committee for State Board: McNiece and Haas.
  • E-Cigarette/Vaping Task Force: Dombrosky.
  • ESSA/ESEA Board Representative: Mah.
  • Kansas Fire Marshal Advisory Committee: Porter.
  • Kansas Prescription Drug and Opioid Advisory Committee: Horst.
  • Legislative Broadband Committee: McNiece.
  • Student Voice Committee for State Board: Mah, Arnold and Haas.
  • Transition Work Group (addressing underserved population of adults): Porter.
  • Kansas State High School Activities Association: Horst and McNiece (terms effective through June 30, then will be re-evaluated).


Bert Moore, director of the Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, kicked off a presentation of the Special Education Advisory Council’s (SEAC) annual report. SEAC formation and membership requirements are set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

Heath Peine, SEAC chair and executive director of student support services for Wichita USD 259, and Jennifer King, SEAC chair elect, shared highlights of the SEAC annual report.

SEAC during the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Discussed personnel shortages in special education areas.
  • Discussed using the ACT assessment as a potential state assessment.
  • Created a subcommittee to develop a family friendly document in the area of secondary transition services and requirements.
  • Reviewed and provided input on the Continuous Learning document.
  • Provided feedback to KSDE’s SETS team.


During the 2020-2021 school year, SEAC is continuing to address administrative licensure; teacher licensure; transition; supporting COVID-related issues (gating criteria); meeting the needs of students 18 to 20 years of age; and technical assistance availability and adaptability.

Future agenda items for SEAC include legislative considerations for the 2021 session; funding needed to support IDEA requirements; and participating in setting targets for the state performance plan/annual performance report for 2020-2025.

Board members had a retreat on boardmanship. Dr. Doug Moeckel, leadership services field specialist with the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), led the retreat. The focus was on board development and the role of policymaking boards.

The next Kansas State Board of Education meeting will take place Feb. 9-10.

Posted: Jan 15, 2021,
Comments: 0,
Author: Ann Bush

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