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:
The following schools were recommended to be Conditionally Accredited:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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