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Kansas State Board of Education January highlights: New chair, vice chair named

Posted: Jan 18, 2019
Author: Ann Bush

Kathy Busch, a Kansas State Board of Education member who represents District 8, will serve as the new chair of the board. Janet Waugh, who represents District 1, will serve as vice chair.

Busch and Waugh were selected during the January State Board of Education meeting, which took place Jan. 15-16 at the Landon State Office Building in Topeka. 

The meeting was the first for new board members Jean Clifford, District 5; Ben Jones, District 7; and Michelle Dombrosky, District 3. 

Deena Horst and Jim Porter were selected as legislative liaisons. Clifford, Ann Mah and Deena Horst were selected as board policy committee members. 

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson gave his report. He discussed growing the numbers of teachers in Kansas. He also gave more information about the Apollo phase of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project. The application window opens on Feb. 4 and closes April 5. The districts selected will be announced on April 16 at the State Board of Education meeting. 

Colleen Riley, director of Special Education and Title Services (SETS), introduced the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC). Members of SEAC introduced themselves to the board, and Joan Macy gave the organization’s annual report. 

Macy told the board that 51 percent of SEAC’s membership is comprised of individuals with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. 

Sarah Perryman, Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) English language arts consultant, and Regina Peszat, KSDE’s world languages consultant, gave a presentation on the Visiting International Teachers program. For the 2018-2019 school year, there are 16 teachers from Spain – four returning from the past school year and 12 new hires. 

VITs are highly qualified, Peszat said. They have a master’s degree, two years of teaching experience and are proficient in English. 

Districts are responsible for interviewing the teacher and making an offer of employment. The districts also pay the salary and provide health insurance; recommend a community mentor; and work with the community mentor to help with purchasing a car and renting a home for the VIT. Districts also pay a $2,000 program fee to KSDE. 

Nazareth Sanchez, a visiting teacher at Scott Dual Language Magnet School, Topeka Unified School District 501, and Eduard Carbonell, a visiting teacher at Landon Middle School, Topeka, USD 501, shared their teaching experiences with board members. Sanchez teaches kindergarten, Spanish language arts, science and social studies. She has had a previous international teaching experience. Carbonell teaches seventh- and eighth-grade math. He has previous experience teaching in the United States. 

Amanda Petersen, director of KSDE’s Early Childhood team, led discussion on plans to strengthen early childhood in Kansas in 2019. 

She informed the board that Kansas has been awarded $4,482,305 in federal grant funding. The funding is authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education. This is a one-year planning grant with a period of Dec. 31, 2018, through Dec. 30, 2019. 

Kansas in 2019 will conduct a needs assessment; develop a strategic plan; maximize parental choice and knowledge; share best practices among early childhood providers; and improve the overall quality of early childhood care and education programs in the state, Petersen said.

The board approved a request to contract with the University of Kansas Center for Research Inc. in an amount not to exceed $4,457,996 to help support the grant. 

To help carry out this work, the board also approved requests to contract with:

  • Wichita State University in an amount not to exceed $185,767.
  • The Kansas Department of Health and Environment in an amount not to exceed $707,586.
  • The Kansas Department for Children and Families in an amount not to exceed $69,694.
  • Kansas Families and Schools Together in an amount not to exceed $262,287.
  • Utah State University in an amount not to exceed $31,600.
  • The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund in an amount not to exceed $508,711.


Tate Toedman, assistant director of SETS, and Riley shared information on federal investments for special education and title services. KSDE receives federal investments of about $330,000,000 each year to distribute across the state to provide services to infants, children and youth. These federal funds are supplemental to state funds, Toedman said. 

KSDE’s SETS team utilizes about 3 percent of these funds to provide coordinated monitoring and technical assistance to local school districts in order to meet the state’s obligations for general oversight under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Kansas Exceptional Children’s Act and the Kansas Freedom from Unsafe Restraint and Seclusion Act. 

The Kansas Technical Assistance System Network (TASN) helps provide the coordinated monitoring and technical assistance. Some of the items and programs supported through the funds include autism and tertiary behavior supports; Kansas Instructional Resources Center for the Visually Impaired; Kansas Learning Network; Kansas Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS); Kansas Parents Information Center (KPIRC); Kansas School Mental Health Initiative; Kansas Teachers of the Deaf Master’s Degree Project; and Families Together Inc. 

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis updated the board on the Mental Health Intervention Program, which was passed by the 2018 Legislature. This was a one-year pilot program. A total of nine Unified School Districts (USDs) are participating in the program during the 2018-2019 school year. The districts are Wichita USD 259, Kansas City USD 500, Topeka USD 501, Garden City USD 457, Parsons USD 503, Abilene USD 435, Chapman USD 473, Herington USD 487 and Solomon USD 393. 

The goal of the program is to provide treatment and track the behavioral health needs of two groups of youth, which are referred to the alpha group and the beta group.

The alpha group consists of youths who are Children in Need of Care (CINC) and in state custody. The children in this group have experienced multiple placements that may range from one end of the state to another. 

The beta group consists of youths who may move from time to time but just as likely may reside in one school district throughout their education. These are youths who need more behavioral health treatment outside of the normal school day. 

Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC), in coordination and cooperation with the nine school districts, are leading this effort. Schools and CMHCs are striving to meet the mental health needs of students by sharing and collaborating on this project, Dennis said. 

Representatives from Dickinson County involved in the program spoke to board members.

Central Kansas Mental Health offers services to students in Abilene, Solomon, Chapman and Herington. It offers services to 112 students in kindergarten through fifth grade in Abilene USD 435; 12 students in elementary, middle and high schools in Solomon USD 393; 30 students in elementary and middle school in Chapman USD 473; and 65 students in elementary, middle and high schools in Herington USD 487. 

Angela Dunn, a behavioral health coordinator working with Kansas City USD 500, said 154 students have been served in that district. Thirty-two percent have shown improvement in academic performance; 36 percent have shown improvement in attendance; and 72 percent have shown improvement in behavior. 

KSDE’s Myron Melton gave the board updates on the School Mental Health Advisory Council. The council was established in July 2017 and is a statewide collaborative that coordinates with legislators and stakeholders to identify unmet needs in school mental health within the state. The council identified two areas of need - awareness and prevention of suicide and awareness and prevention of child abuse and neglect. 

State Board members received recommendations from the School Mental Health Advisory Council including:

  • Guidance from the State Board to districts on the implementation of the Jason Flatt Act.
  • Alignment of the Kansas Communities that Care Survey to the Attorney General’s Youth Suicide Prevention Task Force recommendations.
  • Directing KSDE to revisit how it monitors the implementation of the suicide prevention requirements within the accreditation regulations.
  • Mandating reporter training.
  • Required staff training on mandated reporting requirements and procedures. Required training would include signs of abuse and neglect, to include child sexual abuse.
  • Recommending that districts institute, revisit or revise policies related to mandated reporting.

Deputy Commissioner Dennis and Craig Neuenswander, director of school finance, discussed legislative matters with board members. 

On Wednesday morning, Stacy Smith, KSDE’s assistant director of Career Standards and Assessment Services, spoke about the Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO) Citizenship Day. Elected state student leaders presented on the organizations they represent, including student representatives from Technology Student Association (TSA); SkillsUSA, Kansas; Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA); Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA); FFA; HOSA Future Health Professionals; Educators Rising; Business Professionals of America (BPA); and DECA. There are about 23,000 students involved in Kansas CTSOs, which is 15 percent of the students in the state. 

Board members also:

  • Took part in a mini retreat. Doug Moeckel, deputy executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards, led the retreat, which focused on board development and the role of policymaking boards.
  • Voted to approve recommendations from the Evaluation Review Committee to accredit MidAmerica Nazarene University, Tabor College and Washburn University, and program approval for Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University, Pittsburg State University and the University of St. Mary.

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